First post from Melbourne: Hey, I’m not dead!

So, this is my first ever post written for Wrestling with Wanderlust from Melbourne, Australia, and let me tell you, I wasn’t ever expecting to be writing it ten months after we landed. To recap for any readers who might be new, in November 2013 I moved from the UK, my home of twenty-seven years, to Melbourne, Australia, with my partner P. We had met three years earlier in a Japanese evening class in the city of Oxford where I moved in 2007 to complete my Master’s degree.

I have had a fascination with Australia for as long as I can remember, I’m not sure where it sprang from entirely but I’m probably going to blame watching Crocodile Dundee and The Rescuers Down Under too much as a child. The early nineties were a time when the whole of the UK was pretty much having a massive love affair with the Land Down Under, and I was growing up right in the middle of it. Australia was just a huge exotic land that was so far away from everything I knew. The sun shone all the time and there were vast stretches of beach everywhere according to Neighbours and Home and Away. The men fell into two camps – floppy haired, bronzed, fun-loving surfer dudes or sexy and brooding Outback dwellers who had muscles and accents to die for. The wildlife was unique and exciting, not to mention deadly.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways.

Ack – I’m late with this week’s photo challenge post but I went into town specifically last weekend to take these pictures so they are being submitted dammit! 😀

These are photos of The Bridge of Sighs in Oxford, which links the two parts of Hertford College together. It is popularly believed that The Bridge of Sighs is modelled on the Venetian bridge, but it was never intended to be a replica.  In fact, it bears a closer resemblance to Venice’s Rialto Bridge. I’ve included some pictures for a comparison. 🙂 I found this challenge a bit more difficult this week, though it did help me with perspective I suppose. My landscape and portrait photos of the bridge looked rather too similar, so I decided to zoom in on the bridge’s central carvings instead for the landscape picture. There really are some beautiful buildings in Oxford, taking the time to try and photograph them well is helping me to appreciate them more.

The Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy.

The Rialto Bridge, Venice, Italy.
(Photo credit: Flickr user ptpgrad.)

The Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Italy. (Photo credit: Flickr user it_outsider.)

The Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Italy.
(Photo credit: Flickr user it_outsider.)

Wrestling with wanderlust…and depression.

I mentioned Sir Winston Churchill in my post on his birth place Blenheim Palace the other day, strangely he fits in rather well for this post too. Churchill waged a life-long battle with depression, he called it his “black dog”. You don’t think he’d be the type, he’s an icon of British fighting spirit and strength, his rousing speeches to the masses in the darkest days of the Blitz bring a tear to the eye. Steadfast and strong he embodied the British war effort: Never give up. Never surrender. How can a man with such force of personality have possibly wanted to throw himself under a train at the age of 35? But he did.

I too have battled my own “black dog”. I’ve tried to write about it many times, and I’ve eluded to it briefly in my post on emigrating to Australia, but the time has never been right. Now, for this week’s writing challenge, I think I’ll try.

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One of Oxfordshire’s treasures: Blenheim Palace.

Blenheim Palace taken from the Great Court.

Blenheim Palace taken from the Great Court.

I mentioned in a previous post that I will have lived in Oxford six years this September. Another thing that has been on my Oxford bucket list since moving here is to visit Blenheim Palace, one of Oxfordshire’s biggest tourist spots. P and I finally did this for the first time in June last year, during the Diamond Jubilee long weekend.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

P has kindly donated a photo for this week’s photo challenge. 🙂 When I found out the theme for the challenge this week was foreshadow I couldn’t resist posting a photo from my soon-to-be home. P took this photo along with some others on his last night in Melbourne before moving to the UK in August 2010. He tells me Flinders Street Station is a true Melbourne landmark and icon so I thought it would be appropriate to use this photo here. I remember him showing me his last night in Melbourne photo album not long after we got together – I didn’t think for a minute that I would actually end up going out to Melbourne to live long term one day. The fact I will probably be seeing this building for myself in a few very short months still hasn’t really sunk in.  😉

Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

L'Opéra Garnier, Paris, France

L’Opéra Garnier, Paris, France

For this week’s photo challenge, I have chosen the Palais Garnier as my masterpiece. This is quite personal to me though I’m sure there are others out there who would agree with its masterpiece status. Having been a fan of The Phantom of the Opera since I was seven years old, it has been a long-held ambition of mine to visit this truly unique building. I visited Paris in 2006 for the first – and so far only – time. I was devastated to discover on the day of my visit the Opera Garnier was closed! P did tour the opera house in my honour five years later, but I have yet to actually set foot in the building.

Why is it a masterpiece? It took 15 years to build after being interrupted by such unimportant events as the Franco-Prussian war, the Paris Commune and the fall of France’s second empire. Upon completion in 1875 it was one of the largest theatre venues in the world encompassing 120,000 square feet. The grand staircase is 30m (98 feet) high and seven storeys of the building are actually underground. There’s a subterranean lake below the building which catfish live in and randomly, they keep bees on the roof. You can buy the honey in the gift shop. 🙂 Mainly, I just think it’s absolutely stunning. Really hope I can see inside one day.

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