Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's nearly time

At 3.30 on Friday afternoon, our flight will take off. I hope.

The boy and I are heading off to Europe for the first time. Our first stop is Ireland, where we will be spending 2 nights in Dublin before heading off on a 3 day tour of the South of Ireland. I'll catch up with one of my friends who lives in Galway while we are there. Then, back to Dublin for one night before heading off to London.

2 nights in London, where we will catch up with my cousins and about 5 friends. Then to Amsterdam where we have 2 nights, and I will catch up with another friend. Then to Berlin, where I will indulge my history walking to my hearts content. And then Prague, where we will catch up with another friend of mine, and 2 days and nights of exploring. And then to Munich, where we managed to be in town for the first day of Oktöberfest - and wasn't the boy happy when I told him that. I can't believe I kept it a secret for 9 months.

Then to Venice for 2 nights, followed by Rome for 2 nights, and then Florence for 2 nights. My sister has given me long shopping lists for Italy, but I think I'd rather soak up the country. And quite probably the coffee. Then we are off to Switzerland for 2 nights, staying up in the Alps. We don't have much snow in Melbourne, and definitely not spectacular mountains, so I'm really looking forward to it. I've spent some time on the website of the hotel we are staying in, and loving the webcams showing the snow. I've packed thermals.

Then to Paris. I don't know where to start in Paris, but I'm really looking forward to it. The Lonely Planet European guidebook is packed, and so is the Paris guidebook. So much to see and do. So much wandering to do.

Then back to London. I suspect I'll be a little tired by now. One more night in London before we start heading home. First stop Singapore. 3 nights to laze by the pool, visit the zoo, have a drink at Raffles and visit Changi. Then home. 2 days, and back to work.

Then I can think about a career change.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I'm quite ashamed of myself and the way that I'm feeling right now.

I had a pretty ordinary week at work last week - I was either one or two staff down every day, and we've been fighting some pretty tight deadlines. The worst of these deadlines are as part of a project we have taken on as a favour and every single person involved has been calling me every 5 minutes, or emailing me and then calling before the email gets to me. Driving me crazy. Doing it as part of 13 - 14 hour days without breaks on top of my usual job has just been insane.

By the end of the week I was feeling really tired, very sore, and very resentful. I resented that they didn't appreciate we still had full time jobs to do, as well as organising their project. I was so frustrated that the constant calls from multiple people were giving conflicting requests and information. So very over it.

At lunchtime on Friday I got a call from the mail room. There was a package for me and I had to come and collect it. It was a massive bunch of lilies for me, thanking me for all my hard work.

They are just beautiful flowers, but every time I look at them on the mantelpiece, all I can think about is my frustration and resentment towards the people who sent them to me.

I ashamed of my lack of grace. They have made the effort to send me something beautiful to thank me, and all I am doing is resenting it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

1001 books you must read before you die

Thanks to Kelly over at MyUtopia who inspired me to post something.

From this list

Books I have read
The Sea - John Banville
The Corrections - Jonathan Frantzen
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
Veronika decides to Die - Paulo Coelho
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan
Underworld - Don DeLillo
Jack Maggs - Peter Carey
Alias Grace - Margaret Atwood
Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
Smilla's Sense of Snow - Peter Hoeg (or as I read it, Miss Smilla's feeling for Snow)
Wild Swans - Jung Chang
Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood
Oranges are not the only fruit - Jeanette Winterson
The Handmaids Tale - Margaret Atwood
The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende
The World According to Garp - John Irving
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John Le Carre
Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K Dick
The Spy who came in from the cold - John Le Carre
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Cider with Rosie - Laurie Lee
Mememto Mori - Muriel Spark
The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
The Talented Mr Ripley - Patricia Highsmith
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Casino Royale - Ian Fleming
The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery (in both French and English!)
The Outsider - Albert Camus (in both French and English)
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
The Nine Tailors - Dorothy L Sayers
Thank you Jeeves - PG Wodehouse
Murder Must Advertise - Dorothy L Sayers
All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
Lady Chatterley's Lover - DH Lawrence
Tarka the Otter - Henry Williamson
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Women in Love - DH Lawrence
The Thirty Nine Steps - John Buchan
Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence
The War of the Worlds - HG Wells
Dracula - Bram Stoker
The Picture of Dorian Grey - Oscar Wilde
Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Through the Looking Glass, and what Alice found there - Lewis Carroll
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
Ivanhoe - Sir Walter Scott
Emma - Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
Aesop's Fables - Aesopus

It was really interesting to go through this list. When I got to Lord of the Flies, I felt myself getting really angry and disgusted, feeling the same way I felt when I read it. It isn't often that a book inspires such loathing in me. I remembered the bleakness of The Handmaids Tale, and my disquiet at The Bell Jar. I found myself with a huge smile on my face when I got to To Kill a Mockingbird - a book I reread at least once a year. I remembered the March family, and my continuing love of them as I read the sequels to Little Women. I can still picture in my mind some of the scenes from The World According to Garp - I read it probably halfway through high school and I was fascinated. Horrified, scandalised, but fascinated. Cider with Rosie was such a gentle read, ideal when I was convalescing from my hip surgery. Murder Must Advertise is one of my favourite Dorothy L Sayers books - it holds a special place in my heart and I revisit it at least once a year. The Nine Tailors was the first of her books that I read, and I remember being fascinated by the all the bell information, as well as completely engrossed in the mystery. Jane Eyre was so dark and gothic, but I wanted to know more. Having reread it recently, I got really frustrated with Jane.

Going through this list has been a lovely trip down memory lane for me. So much of my life has involved books, and they have been conduits to emotions and experiences I haven't had.

Which ones have you read?