A night in the cells…2nd anniversary at Malmaison Oxford

Now, I will have lived in Oxford six years this September and one of the things I have wanted to do since moving here is stay at Malmaison Oxford. For those that may be unfamiliar with Malmaison, it’s a chain of unique UK-based city centre boutique hotels. There’s 12 different locations and as Mal’s website likes to quote, they each dare to be different. Different is definitely how I would describe them – you can stay in a converted railway station in Reading, a nurses’ home in London , a Church in Glasgow or…a Royal Mail Sorting Office in Birmingham. Whatever floats you boat I suppose! At Oxford’s hotel you can stay in a prison.  Next door to a castle.  🙂 Continue reading

Cookie heaven: Ben’s Cookies

Ben's Cookies logo and shop sign.

Ben’s Cookies logo and shop sign.

Second sweet treat post of the week! While I plan to write a longer post on Oxford’s Covered Market later on, I had to give this particular shop a post all to itself. Ben’s Cookies is one of my most favourite shops in the Covered Market and something I really will miss when the time comes for me to leave Oxford.

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Package from Melbourne: Australian chocolate!

About three weeks ago a package P’s Mum had organised for us arrived. When P knew his Mum was going to be visiting us in the UK one of the first things he asked was if she would be able to bring us some Aussie chocolate. Whilst she wasn’t able to bring it with her, her partner kindly sent these over:


A jumbo sharing pack of Snickers Pods. If I’d had my way I wouldn’t have shared!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic


Humbugs sweet shop, Lancaster, Lancashire, UK

For this week’s photo challenge, I’ve chosen a photo of Humbugs – a traditional English sweet shop based in my old university town of Lancaster (Lancashire, UK). I went back there nearly two weeks ago now for a reunion of sorts with some old uni friends of mine. It was great reminiscing about past times together, but it was also kinda jarring. Whilst still very much “mine” Lancaster has changed a heck of a lot in the six years since I left and I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with it…it was mine and not mine. As we strolled around town the next day, I took some photos and pointed out some sights to P. What affected me most though is that the whole town is now full of ghosts for me. Wherever we went I saw glimpses of myself, friends, and events from years ago – playing out in front of me in an endless loop. It’s only when you go back to a place you know very well and see how it’s changed that you have a real sense of the passing of time. I remember my first day. I remember numerous visits to Humbugs. What scared me most is that it’s probably the last time I’m going to see Lancaster or visit. That was painful –  it’s a place that truly helped make me into who I am.

(Plus I managed to make it look really old by doing something weird to the saturation in Windows picture viewer…move over David Bailey! :-D)

Emigrating to Australia: Applying for a Partner visa (subclass 309/100), VISA GRANTED!

Wow – quite a long absence, sorry about that! Didn’t I say I was a bad diary writer?

Anyway, I thought I’d better write a post to say that my visa was granted on June 6th 2013 – a whole month ago now! I can’t quite believe how fast the time has gone. What scares me most is that I actually have just over four months left in the UK now before I board my flight to Melbourne. If a month can fly by just like this last one has, I’m sure I’m just going to blink then be on that plane.

The visa coming through when it did was a huge shock to the system, if anyone has read my posts on what we included when we applied and the next steps after that, you’ll know I’d been advised that the visa would take 8-9 months to process at a minimum. I was expecting to hear around August/September at the quickest, so to have my visa issued by early June took me by surprise.

It also freaked me out. A lot.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting

Fireworks over the Thames, New Year's Eve 2010.

Fireworks over the Thames, New Year’s Eve 2010.

I chose this photo for this week’s photo challenge as I felt it summed up this week’s theme perfectly in a number of ways. Firstly, fireworks by their very nature are fleeting, lighting up the sky for the briefest of moments – they are also SO difficult to try and capture…I was so happy with this picture, everything was in focus! 😀 Secondly, I also think you can call New Year’s Eve fleeting. It’s one day a year and the year you are saying goodbye to is never repeated. It’s also the one night a year that one single fleeting moment, midnight, means so much to so many.

Emigrating to Australia: Applying for a Partner visa (subclass 309/100), the next steps.

English: Australia House Home of the Australia...

Australia House: Home of the Australian High Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has “liked” or decided to follow this blog so far, whether through WordPress or Facebook. I’m very new to blogging and any kind of encouragement means a lot. Thank you. 🙂

So an update as to where I am up to in the application process:

I finally received my police clearance certificate on Thursday 2nd May and posted it with a photocopy to Australia House in London on Tuesday 7th May. I received an email from my case officer at the embassy on Thursday 9th telling me that she has received my certificate and that now there is nothing else outstanding on my file. She also told me my medical results had been received and that they were clear – which was the part I was most worried about! Phew! So now, I have nothing else to submit and at last, after just under five months, my application is complete. I’m pleased, relieved, excited and…nervous. Now we are at the most difficult stage: the waiting.

But let’s back up a bit. What exactly happened after P and I submitted the application?

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