Running, reading, classes about to start

February 27, 2011

I had quite a chilled weekend. We didn’t do too much. Today Paul swam laps at Centenary Pool, while I waded in the baby pool with the bubba. She seemed to enjoy it. We spent some time this afternoon with the inlaws as it was Paul’s mum’s birthday. When we go there the bubba has Nanna, Grandad and Auntie all fussing over her which is lovely (and it’s a nice break for me). She also gets to look at their little dog which she likes.

Classes start tomorrow which I’m excited about (but slightly nervous as I’m sure I haven’t done enough reading over the summer in preparation). The bubba has an infection on her tummy so she may not be able to go to childcare this week which is annoying but luckily my mother-in-law is able to help out.

I ran 8.14 km this morning which I’m quite proud of. I am totally on track for the ten kilometre race I’m doing in three weeks. Last week my training ramped up from four sessions per week to five and I really felt the difference! So this week I only did three of the five sessions (I wish I’d done four!) but I still ran 22.3km and I’m going to try to do all five this week and see how I go. If I’m finding I’m too sore, I’ll miss out one of the sessions for a couple of weeks. I really like running and it really helps my physical AND mental health (especially with the sleep deprivation I have from my breastfeeding baby!).

I haven’t been reading a lot recently, but what I have been reading has been for my Honours course (books like Jane Sexes It Up: True Confessions of Feminist Desire, edited by Merri Lisa Johnson, and The Porn Report by Alan McKee, Katherine Albury and Catharine Lumby and also more academic stuff). I know I’m going to find it hard to read for pleasure while I’m studying and having to get through a mountain of reading for my course. I’m thinking of making Saturday a day off from uni where I get to read other stuff for pleasure. Non-study-related books/magazines I’d like to read are Tim Ferris’ the Four Hour Body, Lawrence J Cohen’s Playful Parenting and Runner’s World and Bitch magazines.


Farewell London, eating in the dark, what I am reading…

July 31, 2009

Last weekend Paul and I had our farewell party at a local pub. Heaps of people came and we were there from 3pm until 10pm! I drank a LOT of juice. Unfortunately most of Paul’s photos are dark and blurry.
North star
Above, heaps of the peops at our farewell do. Below, with some friends (Cheryl, Charlotte, Kara) at the nightclub Cargo last Friday night. We saw a very cool band, Yacht, but as the music was blaring and the base was vibrating our bodies, I wondered: ‘Is my baby being totally vibrated right now?’
Cargo
Last night Paul and Cheryl and I went to the restaurant Dans Le Noir? and ate food in pitch blackness. It was quite a strange experience. I did enjoy it but was not very impressed with the food (and the two courses cost £32).

Our boxes of stuff were picked up yesterday to be shipped back to Australia. Now we have lots of cleaning to do and lots of stuff to get rid of. I can’t believe we are leaving in three days. It doesn’t seem real. I would like to go to the White Cube galleries on the weekend to see the current Gilbert and George exhibition and maybe the Hayward to see the Walking in My Mind exhibition.

I also think I’d like to do some wandering around central London to say goodbye. I have really loved London. I am however very excited about seeing my friend Sam and spending three days with her looking around Hong Kong (she informed me yesterday that rain is forecast for next week!) and I am starting to get very excited about being back in Brisbane and seeing family and friends. I am really excited about discovering Brisbane again. People often bag it out for being small (and very spread out) but I always felt there was a lot of stuff going on when I lived there and I really like it. I’m planning on going to the Gallery of Modern Art on my second day back (there is an exhibition of photography by young people from Palm Island that ends that day).

It’s been a while since I did a rundown of the books I’ve been reading, but that might be because I haven’t read many books this year.

Bad Science by Dr Ben Goldacre
I have wanted to read this book for a while. It is really very good! I have seen/heard Ben Goldacre talk a few times and he is really intelligent, informative and funny. You’ll learn a lot about the scientific method and how science works, and how science is abused and also about bad journalism when it comes to science. A very informative book. He is an NHS (National Health Service) doctor and a regular columnist in the Guardian. You can read his columns and other stuff at his website.

59 Seconds by Professor Richard Wiseman
A popular psychology book by a professor of psychology, this is an interesting book and the difference between it and other self-help books is that it is actually based on psychological research. It does have a tendency to simplify things and be contradictory sometimes but I am enjoying it. Richard Wiseman has a blog too.

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
This book of three novels is the first of three books in Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. I have finished the first novel, Quicksilver and I enjoyed it a lot although I had to do a lot of looking up European history. The book is set around the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century in England and focuses on lots of historical figures (philosophers, scientists, politicians and other people). I plan to finish the other two novels in book one one day.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I’m a third of the way in and so far, am not impressed. Some of my friends really love this book but I really don’t understand how. It’s quite annoying and has such a tone of ‘isn’t religion so amazing and wonderful and mysterious’ so I’ve spent most of my time reading it thinking, ‘actually no, I don’t think so.’ I wonder if I’ll finish it.


Serpentine Gallery, books and films

July 19, 2009

Yesterday Paul and I went to the Serpentine Gallery to check out their temporary summer pavillion and to look at their latest art exhibition. The current pavilion is by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of Japanese architecture practice SANAA. I liked it. If I wasn’t pregnant I probably would have had a coffee at the cafe there!
Serpentine Gallery and 2009 Summer Pavillion
Above, the Serpentine Gallery is on the right and the reflective Summer pavillion is on the left (The pavillion photos are by Paul).
The Serpentine Gallery's 2009 Summer Pavillion
The Serpentine Gallery's 2009 Summer Pavillion
Serpentine Gallery's Summer Pavillion 2009
The current exhibition inside the Serpentine is Jeff Koons: Popeye Series. I enjoyed the exhibition but am still undecided on what I think of Jeff Koons. I do like some of his stuff and this exhibition had a lot of objects that looked like inflatable plastic swimming toys (like rings and dolphins, etc) but they were hanging from the ceiling with heavy things hanging off them – they were actually made of aluminium and painted bright colours.
Jeff Koons: Popeye Series, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2009
Jeff Koons: Popeye Series, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2009
Jeff Koons: Popeye Series, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2009
After our sojourn in Hyde Park we headed up to Borders in Oxford Street where all the books are 50% off as they’re closing down. Even though I think most of the good stuff was gone (I couldn’t find any sci-fi or fantasy books!) we still bought ten books between us – and I know, I know, we just have to pack them now to send back to Australia but books are so much cheaper here than in Australia we couldn’t resist.

So lugging our books through Soho we headed to Leicester Square to watch the new (and sixth) Harry Potter but of course it was sold out (well, we could have bought tickets for the front row, which we weren’t so keen on) so we saw the sci-fi film Moon which was very good -I would recommend it highly. We also bought tickets to see Harry Potter today – two movies in one weekend, how decadent! I’m quite excited about seeing HP6 but Paul is less so at it goes for two and a half hours. We’re having lunch with some friends and then going to the film. I’m wondering if we should try to fit in some other London activity before lunch.

Yesterday we finally bought our flights home, so our families can stop asking us ‘When do you arrive back? Have you bought your tickets yet?’ We’re spending three days in Hong Kong with my friend Sam on the way home which is exciting. I still can’t believe I only have two weeks left in London. I feel like I need to be out going places, saying goodbye. I will miss it a lot.


Bad news and random musings

April 9, 2009

Yesterday I went to Pitzhanger Manor which was John Soane‘s country home that he would come to on the weekends (from central London) back when Ealing was a separate town. It was quite nice. I imagined living there, having breakfast in the breakfast room and reading in the reading room.

Then I borrowed the Outsider by Albert Camus from the library. I finished it this morning. I pretty much had Killing an Arab by the Cure in my head the whole time I was reading it!

When I weighed myself at the gym yesterday the scales said I was 5 kilos less than the scales at home which was a shock but kind of a relief – I couldn’t work out why I wasn’t losing any weight when I was exercising so much (well, I’m exercising a lot for me). I’ve asked Paul to weigh himself at home and at the gym near his work to see if there is a 5 kilo difference!

Today I went and had a look at the Whiteleys shopping centre in Queensway. It is a nice building and was probably once a really nice shopping centre but now it has lots of empty shops.

I had a look at the website for the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film and it looks like all the characters mentioned are men (Wolverine, Sabretooth, Gambit, Agent Zero, Stryker, Blob, Wraith). What a disappointment. I know it’s a superhero film and all but I really expect better of X-Men – they have so many characters, how hard is it to feature some women as well as the men? There’s a woman on the poster but now I suspect that she is Wolverine’s long dead love-interest and not an integral character/mutant. I’m not as excited about the film now. Damn Hollywood!

I had some bad news yesterday. A friend from Brisbane (who was living here in London) has gone back home because her younger brother has bowel cancer (she is only 23). They operated but it had spread and they couldn’t get it all so now he is to undergo chemotherapy. I hope the treatment goes well for him and they get it all.


Some recent books

March 25, 2009

I recently read and really enjoyed the graphic memoir Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (of comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For fame). Subtitled A Family Tragicomic, Fun Home covers Bechdels childhood growing up in a funeral home, her coming out to her family as a lesbian at the age of 19, leading to the revelation of her father’s closeted life as a married gay man and his death shortly after. Bechdel looks back over her childhood and adolescence, coloured by her new knowledge of her father’s sexuality and his death at 44 which she believes was suicide. One of the things I loved about this book was the many literary references. Both her parents were interested in the arts and reading, especially her father, and the book is littered with classics and what their stories may have meant to her father, her mother and their lives.
The cover of Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
I want to read more London-based and London-themed books while living here: Lights Out for the Territory by Iain Sinclair, Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd and Mother London by Michael Moorcock. I wonder if I should read a Charles Dickens novel or two while I’m at it. Has anyone got any recommendations? Yesterday I took a bus to Greenford library to borrow Lights Out for the Territory. The book is full of tales of wandering around London. I’m excited about reading it. When I left the library and went to Greenford tube station I was quite excited to find they have wooden escalators!
Wooden escalator, Greenford Underground Station, London
Wooden escalator, Greenford Underground Station, London
Greenford Underground Station, London
I had never heard of them until reading about the tragic fire at King’s Cross Underground Station in 1987 that killed a number of people and one of the changes made afterward was to replace all the wooden escalators with metal ones! I had never seen any until yesterday. Greenford tube is not underground so I guess they get to keep their wooden escalators!

I wanted to read A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe, set in 1665 when the plague swept through London (and written in the 1720s). But after starting it, I think this may end up like Robinson Crusoe – I got less than halfway through and stopped because it was really long-winded and boring. Oh well.


Currently consuming:

February 18, 2009

Currently reading:
Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories by Katha Pollitt
I enjoy reading Katha Pollitt’s political columns from the Nation and I’m enjoying reading these short stories about her personal life. I particularly liked the first story about her driving lessons in her fifties – it helps me feel less bad about being 31 and not having my driver’s license!

Currently watching:
Lately, Paul and I have been watching some great TV:
Lost, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica (Paul is more into this one than I am), and The Flight of the Conchords.
During the day I’ve been watching Scrubs (that’s one positive of being unemployed I guess).


Paul's 30th

February 18, 2009

Paul had Friday off work because it was his birthday and I planned some activities for the day.

First off, we went to Westminster Abbey and spent an hour or so wandering around looking at all the graves and memorials to many famous people including monarchs like Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, scientists like Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin (it was 200 years and one day since he’d been born), and writers and poets like Charles Dickens, the Brontes, Jane Austen, William Blake, TS Eliot, WH Auden, John Milton and Lewis Carroll and politicians and other interesting people like Millicent Fawcett. It was pretty cool.

After that we went to Bloomsbury and had lunch while filling in time waiting for a job interview I had near there (I didn’t get it!).

After my job interview we went to the Bank of England Museum which was pretty cool. I picked up a bar of gold which wasn’t that big but weighed 13kg and was worth more than £200,000. Now I understand ‘worth your weight in gold’ a bit more!

Friday night we had dinner at a local Indian restaurant, the Clay Oven with some friends from Paul’s work, and a couple of Australian friends (Lucy R – who ran 10km in a fun run the following day – and Scottie who is in town for a few weeks).

I bought Paul some books for his birthday: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, The Simplicity Survival Handbook and Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got. There is still one more book to arrive. The books are from a list called Do It Yourself MBA. Oh, I also got him The Baby Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-shooting Tips and Advice on First-year Maintenance.