Monthly Archives: November 2010

2/5ths of the way there….


It will be Wednesday tomorrow, light at the end of the tunnel etc.

Jetlag shows not much sign of changing – was KNACKERED at 3pm, or in my inner brain, 4am GMT. I did not even get to the gym this evening, having a good energetic lie down after work instead. Hubby went to the pub to have some end of year drinks – he is now not feeling well, and also having a good energetic lie down.

BIG props to my resident, who baked a cake for the birthday of a long-term patient. What an awesome doc!

Am doing a bit of an overhaul – off to have my teeth filled on Friday, then off to the sports doc on Monday – my knee was really creaky and stiff (plus have had a disconcerting crackle in my patella when I go up/down stairs).

Watching vintage episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Love that show, always good for a giggle.


The home stretch.


I have started work after 5 weeks holiday. This is my final term as a trainee, the final term as a registrar. It was a good day, good residents and good consultants this time around.And I didn’t get too sleepy.

I made the most of the weekend, election day and all. Not pleased about the result but hopefully Ted will not be as bad as Jeff. Fingers crossed. I went to my first Body Pump class – weights – and it was not as hard as I thought it would be. Need to ramp up the weight and whup those girly arms into shape. Had dinner with the Mother in Law while hubby scrutineered for the Greens on Saturday night.

Sunday – slid with difficulty out of bed to go to Step, and was glad I did. Kept on my feet, cleaning out my closet; it was either that or fall asleep. I nearly chucked out quite a bit, thinking, hell, I never wear it, but then I thought NAAAAH I should wear it. Like that white dress with black patterns on it that I paired successfully with black sheer stockings and a black cardie today. More polish, less slattern (borrowed that word from Kathryn).

Sunday was our 6th wedding anniversary (and here is to many more) and we went to Cutler and Co for dinner. The food was great and the service perfect; we had the degustation and they didn’t even worry about kicking us out at 8pm for the next customer for our table. The waitress even remembered us from the last time we were there!

Work was eminently bearable, as I had said. Even had the energy to go to Zumba today. Nothing like some uplifting music and jumping about and booteh shaking to get you pumping. Very important for my mood, especially at the moment.

Just watching Glee at the moment – I always nearly blub at it, I love the music and love the theme of acceptance and being yourself that runs through it.

Oh, and some good news: I look like I have myself a couple of sessions work for next year, enough to keep the PhD tenable. Good old Kwang, he always comes through.

Floss, floss, floss them teeth.


Home. I am jetlagged.

So what is the best thing to do when jetlagged? Why, go to the dentist, of course! Sucker for punishment, that is me.

I went to the hygienist first, who picked at my teeth with a metal prong, which is less comfortable than, say, a pap smear. She sighed a lot and asked me how often I flossed. See, I have never been a flosser, and, up until the unfortunate root canal episode of 2009, I had gotten away with it with no fillings. My lassitude is catching up with me now. The 2 years of antidepressant therapy also would not have helped; one of the lesser known but common side effects of SSRI medication is dry mouth, which increases the risk of cavities.

The dentist came in and took some x rays. Whoopsy – I need 2 fillings. Instead of telling me sternly to floss, he explained why I should, in technical terms. Which is good. Stuff about sugar and acid and bacteria and this causing demineralisation of the teeth. I now have an appointment for next Friday afternoon.What a great way to start the weekend! Luckily, my new private health fund covers a bit more so the wallet-ache is lessened.

My new dental care regimen will consist of: Flossing (random reminders will be appreciated), chewing gum after lunch, using the fancy tooth mousse at night, cutting back / weaning off the sugar in my coffee (I only take half-1 anyway) and cutting back on the nibbling during the day.

Further to the self care. As I think I have mentioned, my mood has been a bit up and down recently. When I can put my finger on what is getting me down, I can usually talk myself out of it, but sometimes I have had this vague, pervasive sense of unease. This is a bit of a concern, and I will talk to my mental health entourage about this. However, on good days, I am good, which is good. 😀

I already have a bit of a plan in place, which is thus – it builds on the gains that I have already made.

  • I have slowly come around to the fact that I must not get down about the way I look, but focus on the positives – I am not such a bad looking bird (and thankYOU Phil, for reminding me of this). I have internalised this and made it more automatic. In fact, with a bit of effort, I can look quite good. Effort insofar as a bit of makeup, a bit more effort with the clothes (I have nice ones but get a bit lazy with wearing them), a few accessories, and the resulting swagger. This is what the girls overseas do, and it works. I thought, wow, they look good, but objectively they are often no better looking than others. It is not what you have but how well you shake it. And shake it, I will. Or at least I will give it a darned good try.
  • I have gotten a bit better with the eating and drinking alcohol, in fact I seemed to have gained no/minimal weight while overseas despite only eating out. I am just one of those people whose psyche cannot withstand a lot of alcohol, and I have come around to this. I no longer feel that I need it to round off a meal or a lot of it to celebrate things. This is positive.
  • I will aim to work up a sweat most days when I can- not with the aim to burn calories, but that it seems to improve my mood. At the very least, it does not make me feel any worse.
  • My tendency is to want to do everything, all at once, and pack a lot in, regardless of how tired or busy I am. I was getting stressed yesterday about not going to an aerobics class. I thought – chill the f out, honey, you only got off the plane at 0730, give yourself a break. I do well when I aim to do just one or two things, and doing them, and cutting myself slack about the other things I “should” be doing (am shoulding myself again).
  • Getting decent sleep is important, because sleep is good, and also, it reduces the need for coffee, which I need to look at weaning, my gastro-oesophageal junction will thank me immensely.

On the topic of achievable goals, I must go and finish unpacking now.

Suppressed airport rage- where’s my effing upgrade, bastards?


I have squillions ( ok about 60000) frequent flyer points which one might think would be good for an upgrade but oooooooh no, they have to be stingy. What the f is the point of an airline alliance when you can only use the points on one airline???
Ok rant over. Am back at hk airpot waiting for my final leg home.
I had a great few last days in London, catching up with old mates, and even catching up with Phil for coffee again. I had quite an academic few days, seeing an exhibition on the evolution of the English language at the British library, and checked out the Wellcome collection. I also went to the other Anthropologie shop in London, bought a dress from the previous season on sale, one I had been lusting over.
In a cafe, I was sitting next to two ladies who were models, I knew this because they were very skinny, and also they were talking about modeling assignments. It crossed my mind to ask them if they were models, and when they replied yes, saying “hey, me too!”. Then seeing the looks on their faces.
Ok, so back home. I have my compression stockings on, my earplug at the ready and most importantly, my Macau pills.


London – Loitering with intent.


I got to London on Thursday, tired and a bit miserable (jetlag?) and really missing my hubby, wanting to get the next plane home to him. I had dinner at my friend’s ‘Londominium’ and was a bit of a sad sack.

Then, as always, I woke up and remembered why I loved London. I went to my favourite London coffee shop, Monmouth Coffee Company. MCC (not to be confused with Melbourne Cricket Club) is a tiny cafe with communal tables and therefore, a good place to make new friends. I had a chat with an American lass – the conversation starter was her Anthropologie mustard coloured pea coat. I then duly went off to Anthropologie – an American brand which has 2 stores in London. I spend a lot of time on the internet lusting over their clothes (couture porn) and when I got there I was like the kid in a candy store (or woman in a really big clothes store with credit card at the ready). I spent a good couple of hours in the store and tried a whole heap on. There was a really good sale section (mostly summer stuff). I was remarkably restrained, I think, with what I bought; the pea coat was the only non-sale item I procured.

Walking down Kensington High Street, there were lots of great shops other than Anthropologie, however I was in a hurry – hence a worried call from by bank was subverted. There was a shoe shop curiously called ‘R. Soles’. I can just imagine the shock of the people who call that shop on the telephone.

That evening, a wonderful drink/dinner/more drinks with the stellar Philippa (skinny latte), my other UK brother from another mother. We got along uncannily well – it is amazing how much you know a person from their blogs. I only wish Shauna and Phil lived nearer me!

Unfortunately on saturday morning I woke up at 0600 (jetlag) and was kept awake by the night supervisor of my hotel, whose room is next to mine, snoring like a sea lion or other such creature. There was a wall in between AND I was wearing my silicone putty ear plugs!  I was unimpressed.

However, I pressed on with my plans to wander about. I went to the famous Portobello Road markets in Notting Hill. It was extremely crowded and full of tourists (I prefer to think of myself as an intermittent Londoner rather than a tourist) and I was getting more and more agitated; London would be good if it had more space! We do not know crowds in Australia. But then I told myself to chill the fuck out and just enjoy the (cold, grey) atmosphere. I had a nice cup of coffee served to me by a fellow with an Italian accent and I felt more normal.

The markets were really something else; lots of antique jewellery, vintage furs, handbags, hats and also some crafts. Further down they sell food – I ate a paella made on the street in a jumbo paella pan for lunch. I then walked down (another) Kensington street, and marvelled at the Georgian (or is it Victorian? I always forget) terraces. I wondered who lived there; they were probably rich. Probably the equivalent of Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones, I would have thought. I happened upon a wedding crowd; posh ladies like fascinators in their hair, I learned, and smiled at their excitement. I ‘ducked’ into a branch of the famous British lingerie chain, Agent Provocateur. This chain, which is quite upmarket, sells sexy (not porn-star like) but highly impractical smalls for ladies that are…small. The shop assistants there were cute little tight pale pink dresses, kind of like a naughty nurse. This looked a treat on the tall, pneumatic, blonde Swede sales assistant; we had a nice little chat. She asked me if I wanted to try anything on in my size- apparently they have it- and I stifled a guffaw and said ‘no, not today’.

I then toddled down to Hyde Park. I have never been and walked through Hyde Park in my previous times in London. Unfortunately, there was a protest rally ongoing at the time, so I ducked in and got myself a hot drink from Pret a Manger (a really cool fast healthy food chain which they have GOT to get in Australia). I was served by the most beautiful bubbly Afro-Caribbean lady, and I felt it necessary to complement her on her smile. She seemed too effervescent to work in a fast food place, but it is good that she does. By that time the protest had finished. I went there and people watched – (perving at) sorry looking at the nice blokes running around hyde park.

That evening, I went back to Darren’s Londominium, where a few of us (including some other people I know) had a mega dinner. Daz made a jumbo version of everything – burgers, sangria, starters. Then we played pictionary – after a few wines and under the influence of Jetlag it was all improbably funny.

Today, I went out with the intention of looking at other markets, but ended up at St. Pauls cathedral for the church service; alas, it is free to get in there on Sundays (usually 12 quid to climb up the dome). I walked through a part of London which was quiet, and saw the venerable Bank of London building – a Mary Poppins tour of sorts.

I am not terribly religious, though not an atheist, but I was really moved by the service in the surroundings. It was probably this, plus a combination of jetlag and PMS which made me blubber just a tiny bit. The choir was rousing and sang in Latin. We shook hands with our neighbour in the pew, saying ‘Peace be with you, (and also with you)’. A really important, relevant and poignant message.

I then went to the old operating theatre exhibition at Guy’s Hospital, which was built in the pre-anaesthetic and antiseptic era – gory! Then I went to the Tate Modern gallery, where they had an awesome Gauguin exhibition. The free section of the gallery was also really good; lots of important post-impressionist and surrealist works (including Monet’s Water Lillies).

And then, finally, I have found an internet cafe to document my good times.

Tomorrow, I think I will go to Hampstead Heath; the forecast is for bright skies. It will be my last full day on holidays.



Not my first visit to Scotland, I went to Glasgow 5 years ago, but my first visit to Edinburgh.

I arrived in Edinburgh at 1130 hrs, but my room was not ready at the hotel, so I wandered about looking like a bogan in my tracky daks and coat. I finally got into my hotel room at about 2pm and tried to have a nap but my room was too noisy (first floor near a corner with buses going past). So I got moved to a room upstairs. On the 6th floor. No stairs. This will help me get fitter / burn off holiday flab.

Last night, I met up with Shauna/Dietgirl, for dinner. It was awesome to meet her – I yabbered on a bit which I tend to do when I am deliriously tired/drunk/a bit nervous (I was all of these things). I think we understood each other well, and we chatted like old mates. I passed on messages of admiration from people (Andrew). We had dinner at a place called The Two Dogs, with great food,  but it had a slightly unnerving very large picture of a dog (possibly a greyhound, could not tell), then Shauna graciously took me for a fried mars bar. To be honest it tasted like hot mars bar…not the gooey deliciousness I had imagined; I think deep frying works better with savoury foods. I had a wonderful time – always great to meet a like-minded individual.

Today, I went on a walking tour of Edinburgh, which was very educational. We saw views of Edinburgh castle, got a glimpse of some “haunted Edinburgh” and generally got a feel for the place. I also learned about the origin of the word ‘shitfaced’ and other interesting facts. I went and had some Haggis for lunch (it is quite nice, very peppery) and then went to see the Castle, but it was about to close. Instead I went to the Edinburgh writers museum, basically a tribute to Robert Louis Stevenson, Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott. It also had a section on how writers are prone to persecution in some countries, which was very interesting.

To state the bleeding obvious, it is cold here. And dark. It is 5:30pm and pitch black.

Tonight, I am catching up with an old friend for dinner. I am writing this from The Elephant House Cafe, which is where JK Rowling sat all day long with a cup of coffee and wrote the first 2 Harry Potter novels. It is a nice cosy (ish) place.  I have had a coffee as insurance against falling asleep over dinner.

Tomorrow: up to see the Castle, then off to London!

From my iPhone, from the train, in the Father country


hello from England, where I am meandering north on the train to Edinburgh.
I got off the plane at 0450 GMT, and, thanks to my British passport, flied through customs. Though booked on an 8am train, I got on a 7am train, and here I am, taking advantage of the free wifi on the train.
I sprung for a premium economy seat on the plane, was ok, not as uncomfy as cattle class. I flew british airways, the service was not too bad. What made the flight most bearable was the use of sleeping tablets procured from Macau.
At the moment, I am going through the North of England, near Durham (my ancestral town), so it is great. I arrive in Edinburgh at about 1115 hrs, quite fast, though not as fast as the Shinkansen.
Yesterday, hubby and I had a lovely time wandering about the peak area of Hong Kong island, lush subtropical forest with the worlds most expensive real estate (I kid you not). The weather was quite balmy and humid.
Here in England, it is cold and misty, the fields are shrouded, literally, in mist. It makes me cold just looking out there.
Tonight, an audience with dietgirl, Shauna, herself! Am very excited!
Then some sightseeing tomorrow, then dinner with a friend coming across from Glasgow.
Jetlag, shmetlag.

Hong Kong: Stuff vs Experience


Hello from Hong Kong.

I have found it loud, crowded and a little overwhelming.

Shops EVERYWHERE. Bling, luxury goods, cosmetics, electronics, pharmacies EVERYWHERE. Alas, no clothes to fit. I have stopped trying things on.

Materialism is soul sucking. So is trying stuff on that does not fit. So I have bought what I have wanted to buy, the stuff that is cheaper here than back home, and have avoided lots of browsing.

I just cannot bring myself to spend the moolah on a designer handbag (though I have lusted after one). I went and hung my nose over them at Louis Vuitton, but decided that it would be too expensive. Well, just that I would rather spend the money on frivolous experiences (like trips to Edinburgh and London) than frivolous goods. This, surely, is a sign of maturity 😛

However, they have second hand, good condition designer bags in HK – a place called Eco Ring in Tsim Sha Tsui. I sprung for one; it is about a quarter of the price of the new bag. I am happy now!

We went for a trip to Macau yesterday, it was great! Basically Macau is a tiny Portugese colony off China, an hours’ ferry ride out of HK. Basically, it is a mix of Rome, Hong Kong and Las Vegas (lots of casinos). It is a fascinating place. We went on an organised tour, seeing the old Lisbon style city square, looking at the casinos, and seeing the sky tower, which has the worlds highest bungy jump from it. The viewing platform is partly glass bottomed, very vertiginous.

today, a wander about Mongkok, a suburb in Kowloon. The further north you go, the more Cantonese it gets. We saw the wet markets on Nelson st: basically tubs of water with bubblers in them, and live fish/crustacea in there. Can’t get fresher than that. There are trucks in the street to pump the water. A fish jumped out and landed near my foot. Squeal and giggle!!

I was also after some medicines for heartburn and sleep – you can buy stuff there over the counter that is quite tightly regulated in Australia!

Off to the UK tomorrow night! Off to Caprice for dinner tonight – it has come highly recommended by a friend.

Mood a bit up and down, been a bit anxious (have discovered I tolerate crowds poorly) at one point was thinking of ditching the UK part of the itinerary and going home, until my lovely husband talked some sense into me….have been focussing on enjoying things (and not trying asian sized clothing on, surefire way to fuck with your head), keeping up some exercise, not going berserk with the wine, trying to sleep properly……

Addit: Caprice was awesome! Had the venison, tastes like beef.

Kyoto: Geishas and Glam


Well we arrived from Nara yesterday, after having seen the national museum. It was some 1300 year old relics like scrolls and stuff, and a mandolin, all quite well preserved. Very crowded. If SARS is on the loose again we are buggered.

We went to Kyoto and had a wander about the Gion district, Geisha territory, yesterday afternoon. We saw a few, one made up looking like obvious geisha, a few probables (without the makeup but had the hairdo).

(Interesting read: the wikipedia page on Geisha, it answers the question of whether Geisha are prostitutes or not, and other fascinating things)

It is beautiful, parts of Kyoto. There are also plenty of seedy parts too, like pachinko parlors. There are beautiful gift shops with stuff made out of Kimono silk. I was good, only bought a few things.

This morning we went on a bus tour of parts of Kyoto, looking at things like the golden temple (ie a Temple with gold leaf on it, it really is very ….gold), Nijo castle and the imperial palace.

For lunch, we had conveyor belt sushi, apparently not the best sushi according to lonely planet, but to us, it kicked arse over anything we have eaten in Australia. And cheap; 137 yen a plate (with 2 bits on there) we had 16 plates between the 2 of us. And you sit around the conveyor belt and the chefs work in the middle, so you get to watch (and photograph) them. It was fun.

This arvo, took a little detour to Takashimaya, tried on some cosmetics, the ladies are very nice and put on makeup for you so you can try it and they don’t seem to get too shirty that you don’t buy anything. Then found something awesome: a Laduree outlet in that department store. Laduree is the famous patisserie in Paris, makes the worlds best macaroons. Especially the Vanilla ones. Bliss.

We are in Kyoto at a good time; the geisha put on concerts in spring and autumn. We are in town for a concert called Gion Odori, put on by the Gion East Geisha ‘clan’, one of the more prestigious groups. It was beautiful. Amazing. Didn’t understand a word, but looked at all the pretty kimonos. Their faces, though whited out, are very expressive. The bit at the end, where all the girls got up on stage and danced with fans, was breathtaking. I will be posting photos on facebook soon, I took heaps.

Off to Tokyo tomorrow, to have dinner/drinks/singing with Kath. Then off to Hong Kong.

I have been doing well eating wise, nibbling nice little things but not overeating particularly. Or over-drinking, not like what I usually do when I go overseas!

Harro from Nara


But first, Mt Koya. This is a mountain on the Hanto peninsula which is the HQ for a form of esoteric buddhism. It is full of temple lodges (basically monasteries where you can sleep over and get a veggo brekky and dinner). It is about 900m above sea level (so fecking freezing) but very picturesque. There is a big pagoda and several other nice temples to look at there. We were up early in the morning for a Buddhist ceremony which was a lot of monotonal chanting that I did not understand. I was a bit grumpy and down on mojo after that; probably due to the cold and lack of caffeine in my system, and a Japanese style breakfast (I am not a great fan of Tofu).

I went out for a run this morning, with the deer in Nara park. They are super tame little critters. They even give you a nudge (head vs butt equals headbutt) when they want a deer cracker.

Then we went out to see some of the temples and a sublime Japanese garden, bursting with autumnal crimson. We saw the big buddha at todai- ji, the biggest buddha I have ever seen, in fact.

At Todai-ji, there is a pillar with a hole in the bottom of it, apparently it corresponds with the size of the buddhas nostril. It is about 1 foot square. If you can squeeze through it, you have eternal enlightenment.

Kiddies do well with this, and so do more slender adults. Anyone more corpulent (or hippier) is denied enlightenment. Humph. I did not even try for fear of getting stuck.

Ian fed a deer and it kept headbutting him for more. He refused, citing the theory of operant conditioning (ie need to deny deer snacks to discourage bad behaviour). Deer psychiatry.

We then went to see the burial mounds where apparently dead emperors are buried. Just a big hill with a few trees and weeds. A memorial which we could not read.

I went for a wander about. I saw a few things that I did not buy (saving cash, see below). I saw some cool stuff like a vintage kimono store, and a Japanese fabric store, and a 105 yen shop (inflationary pressures). We had okonomiyaki for lunch, with a lime drink which made me dizzy (alas, it had alcohol in it).

We are staying in a Ryokan called Tsubaki-so (tsubaki means camellia). It is recommended by the Lonely planet. It is indeed very homely, and the owner makes a fuss of you and brings you sweeties and green tea. She has a miniature geriatric (13 year old) dog who makes funny wheezy barking noises but is very sweet.

I then saw a few Japanese running stores; bear in mind that Asics, Mizuno and possibly New Balance are Japanese brands. Good prices (AUD 180 for a pair of the latest Kayano, 150 for 2160s) but alas not a pair to fit me. Will have to save the cashola for other things *

We were going to see the museum tomorrow, there was a humungous queue there, probably about a 2 hour wait (tip: never go to Nara on a Sunday). We will go there first thing tomorrow morning. Then off to Kyoto for a two days, then back to Tokyo for a night to do some drunken caterwauling with Kathryn. Then to Hong Kong, to partake of my favourite activities: shopping and eating.

* stuff I would like to buy in HK and or the UK:

  • A garmin watch – cannot find any here in Japan.
  • Stuff from H&M/Zara/Other cool places they dont have in Oz.
  • Possibly an uber expensive handbag.
  • Maybe some Christmas presents, but not much room in the Backpack so may have to do the shopping in Melbs.