Sunday, 21 December 2008

Passport, check...

So I wish I was asleep right now but for various reasons, among them cold feet, I am not. Wide awake would be too strong a term and yet here I find myself, vaguely awake but far from alseep - and typing. I can't decide if it's narcissistic or just peculiar. Either way - it's technically tomorrow by 26 minutes which means I'm Sydney-bound in exactly 11 hours.

I'm really so excited to be heading home for Christmas, though it feels a little strange at the same time. I haven't been gone long enough for it to feel like any sort of significant homecoming and yet there's a weird sort of ambivalence to it, for want of a better word. I guess because I know I'll be back in London in a months time and am not sure how I feel about that, despite so looking forward to next semester, and I'm also not sure how I feel about not knowing exactly when I'll be home again. It's a whole lot of strange wrapped in a whole lot of yay. Gosh I can't wait to be back in Sydney.

Though ironically enough London has proven quite charming-slash-quirky-slash-sunny (shock! horror!) the last few days. Maybe The Tired has turned me slightly gaga but I could swear to a smug but dulcet whisper of nar-nee-nar-nee-nar-nar being carried on the icy winds strangling every street corner in central London...

Yesterday I went to Borough Market. If heaven were a place on earth that sold cheese and brownies and organic vegetables and "Specialities by Italian monks" it would be this very place.

Just so divine - before the crowds get to be too much you can seriously just do laps of the entire market sampling repeatedly from all the cheese platters and bread stalls. There is something here for every appetite and I only sated one of mine (the inner organic vegetarian one) so I'm determined to make this a more regular visit in the day-to-days of London life next year.

Then last night I went out for dinner for a school friend's birthday. The night before we'd had our end of term party, at this cool little champagne bar in Soho called Amuse Bouche. Tres fancy but a lot of fun - and a lot of free champagne... Last night was more of the same, only not so free, but then how can you put a price on drinks that look like this:

If ever you have to fill out one of those ridiculous time sucking but secretly kinda fun "how well do you know me?" emails... well my favourite drink is now officially (and after some concerted research it must be noted...) the lychee martini. Hello my friend. (Pansies remain optional).

After eating this amazing Moroccan meal one of the other girls from school, who appears to know every well-connected person and hip establishment in the entire Zone 1, and probably also Zone 2, took us out. We went to this member's only club called Sketch: picture if you will (no pun intended...) the requisite skinny door bitch plus the most hilariously hipster crowd known to man and the tabloids, think dudes in skinny jeans with afros and sunglasses and girls who haven't eaten since 1997 in faux fur coats, shiny lycra tights and crazy headbands.

The wallpaper was a moving video art installation and the halls were filled with paintings and kinetic sculptures and so much attitude I just had to laugh. I've never felt more like a tourist than I did last night - but I have to admit, it was so fucking out there that cool really is the only word for it.

It wasn't a late night but I've felt exhausted all day today, especially after letting my inner anal retentive clean freak loose on the house. But I feel happy to leave now knowing that the kitchen cupboard doors sparkle like new.

Ok. I need to find me some sleep.

Sydney here I come...

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Cake and vodka

I. am. so. tired. I am SO pleased that I never have to work with two of my three group members ever again and I. am. so. SO. in. need. of. sunshine.

We had our group presentation yesterday and I suppose it went reasonably well, given my exacting standards but a big "whatevs" because the semester is now finished and I have five days to re-set my body clock, pack and starve before arriving home for a month of sunshine and swimming and family time. Hur-rah.

I am so exhausted that I physically have the shakes. On Sunday night I was so tired and stressed that I didn't get to sleep until 4.30am - but at least I spent the time productively, cleaning the stove, re-writing our group report and finessing my presentation. I wanted to vomit after we were finished - thanks in part to the sudden departure of adrenalin but I'm unwilling to rule out the diet coke and red bull I had for breakfast as another contributing factor....

Sunday, 14 December 2008


I had an interesting discussion with a friend last week. Following a conversation we'd had the day before about my inability to complete anything with more than a few hours to spare, she confessed the next day to having pondered later about whether I was the laziest ambitious person she knew or the most ambitious lazy person. I conceded that would indeed be a tough nut to crack. And then we parted ways and I went home and did my washing, re-arranged the contents of my drawers and considered writing my essay.

I'm not sure if I've solved it for her but I can tell you this much for free - when a girl is too busy even to procrastinate she is fucking busy my friend.

Monday, 8 December 2008

The final countdown

This time in two weeks I will be kicking about Hong Kong airport waiting for my connecting flight home. Too exciting!

If only this week was over already. Currently I'm 17 minutes down with only six gazillion to go. The sad thing is that there is so much to get done this week I'm not even sure six gazillion minutes will be enough. Just as long as I don't eat my way through this assignment like I did the last. Hell no.

It has been a reasonably productive weekend I suppose - though someone please remind me of my rule about not drinking diet coke after 4pm - another 4am session of bolt awake thumb-twiddling and I will do more than howl in frustration.

Two more weeks, two more weeks.

I went to a school friend's birthday party on Friday night - more cocktails (hello raspberry martini my friend) and a chance to wear some ridiculous heels and a sparkly dress - certainly a shift in gears from my usual attire, channeling 12 year old boys in my converse and baggy pants.

Everyone was in good form, and I think might have even been hit on - though it's hard to know, the last time someone hit on me I was five and in the sandbox, and you know, literally hit on. A slightly peculiar guy but fun to pretend I was normal. He told me I had a lovely nature - I told him that was lovely as usually people found me sarcastic and combative. I think he thought I was joking. Whatever the case it was nice to have a moment of non-social retardation, however fleetingly. And I look forward to welcoming back my social life at the end of this week, once the project is finished.

Until then I shall just continue to whisper softly to myself "two more weeks, two more weeks..."

Friday, 5 December 2008

Happy Hour

A rhetorical question obviously but could there be anything more wonderful than £3 cocktails? Apart from anything else they help keep the maths gloriously simple when it comes to multiplying by four...

Yesterday was a cocktail day. It had to be done. In fact, I could probably argue for it being a cocktail week. [Have just realised how close I'm skirting to poster child status for Alcoholics Anonymous - but whatever, it's been a long few days...]

Earlier this week I went babysitting. Old friend of my mum's hairdresser who now lives in London with her husband and four kids. I don't remember the last time I baby-sat, I certainly don't remember the last time I had to duel intellectually with a seven year old (Are you married? Why not? How old are you? I think mid-30s [are you fucking serious?!?!?...] How many degrees do you have? Our other babysitter has 10.) but it was a good night, and a dream run once they were all in bed. Lovely kids, lovely parents and a house full of Australian food stuffs. Oh Vegemite I've missed you.

It was a late night though, or perhaps I should say early morning, as I didn't get home until 2.30am. Thankfully they paid for a cab (living as they do on the absolute other side of London) and I had a lovely ride home through the deserted streets of London - and a free philosophy lecture from my cab driver about why it is important to be good in life.

Then yesterday I had my first slide exam. One hour, 12 slides and the most vomitous drivel imaginable masquerading as rigorous visual analysis. You can see why I needed a cocktail or four. Perhaps I'll re-imagine the evening as a homage to Martha Rosler's Semiotics of the Kitchen from 1975 - C for Cosmopolitan, T for Toast on the couch at home, M for Mild headache this morning...

I do need to get up and get on with the day - I have a date with the library this morning and a longstanding guilt-riven obligation to the temple that isn't quite my body to take it to the gym. Then I need to come home and get this bloody group project started. We have 10 days to put an entire issue of an art magazine together - from concept to editorial to ads to images. If we can pull it off it will be phenomenal and I'm looking forward to it but it's going to be one loooo-oo-ong week. A week punctuated by fun outings for birthday parties and hopefully some tobogganing in Hyde Park, but nonetheless a disproportionately long and stressful week.

In my Peter Pan happy place - this is where I would be this weekend:

Swimming from Bondi to Bronte. I am so longing to be home in the sun and sea that I feel physically a bit sick. And no, before you say anything, it has nothing to do with the cocktails.

Monday, 1 December 2008

A daycation to Camden

This afternoon, at the behest of my sanity and upon the invitation of Kirsten, I took a daycation to Camden.

Famous for its market, its Lock and a pervading air of scruffiness, Camden has a fascinating sort of charm. It's kind of where fads of past decades go, not to die as it were unfortunately, but to live in a kooky kind of co-existence. Patent leather platform Doc Martens, meet gold lycra tights. Mohawk, meet the backcombed bee-hive. That sort of thing. It's a fairly tawdry place and over-run with tourists, which is a shame as apart from anything else, it means you can't gawk in a tourist-like manner and take photos in any of the totally bizarre stores selling day-glo spiked collars and PVC t-shirts while scary looking goths spin discs in the corner. I swear to god - I just have to hear the distant doof doof of techno and I feel like I'm back in high school. And I remember acutely how uncool I was.

You can buy almost anything here - especially if it's made from polyester leopard print or reconstituted plastic... It's a terrible thing really when you enter a store and your mind immediately starts to narrow.

There was lots by way of food though and tempting knick knacks of the dust-gathering variety and plenty to distract and amuse and I dare say I'll be back at some point for a good rummage. As long as they hold off on the acid house music.

I can't quite believe tomorrow is the 1st of December. Holy shit. This time in three weeks I will be somewhere over Mongolia, assuming my plane leaves on time... which means there are only three weeks left of school for the year. If my last essay is anything to go by, I suspect there will be lots of procrastinating and online pondering in the next two weeks as I struggle through the world's most torturous group project. Stay tuned for news on that one.

There isn't really much else to report at the moment as I have spent the better part of the weekend asleep. There's a certain decadence to going to bed and not setting the alarm that I rather enjoy and I don't regret a single hour I've spent under the covers these last two days. If nothing else it's been a pleasant way to distract from a pervading blasé faire sense of statelessness (masquerading as homesickness) that seems to have overcome me of late. Thankfully I'm not going to have a minute to think about it between now and when I check in at the Cathay Pacific desk in three weeks time. And failing that there are always chocolate and peanut butter milkshakes to distract me.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Brighton Rock(s)!

Yesterday was a very special day. Ignoring the "mild" hangover that came with two accidental cocktails and a bottle of wine over dinner, and rugged up against a bracing 4 degrees, I spent yesterday in Brighton with my dear friend Kirsten.

10 years ago a slightly chubbier, arguably less sarcastic, definately less worldly version of myself made this very same trip - for my gap year. It was while working at Roedean School that Kirsten and I met and it was yesterday that we went back for the first time. Such a good day - despite my apparent amnesia when it comes to remembering a number of the things we did and saw and drank while living here...

Our first port of call was a little village called Rottingdean - for a morning tea that starred scones, clotted cream, jam and pots of tea. We caught the bus there, ogling out the window at Roedean as we drove past...

(I don't think the resemblance to Colditz Castle is in anyway accidental...)

It's just bizarre to re-trace the paths of the ghosts of our former selves and to reflect on the enormity of a decade and the distances, literal and otherwise, that have been travelled since then. It's certainly been fascinating to ponder what advice I might retrospectively offer my 18 year old self, given the opportunity. To be honest it's oddly reassuring to realise that apart from "Resist the urge to cut all your hair off when a boy breaks your heart" and "Read the fine print - you didn't have to do all those pointless Gen Ed subjects" - well, it would simply be to stop worrying so much because actually it will all be ok. But maybe go easy on the clotted cream, yes?...

Waddling out of Ye Olde Tea Rooms in Rottingdean we decided to take the coastal cliff walk back to Brighton.

Such a beautiful day - despite the freezing temperatures and just so good to be by the water again. Though Brighton can keep the pebbles - I'll have my Bondi sand thanks very much.

Huffing and puffing our way back into Brighton we had a delightful afternoon wandering through the Old Lanes and the North Laine - lots of street markets and cafes and bric a brac antique shops just begging to be relieved of their fabulous jewels... On our way there we passed the Royal Pavilion. Built in the early 19th century, it was the destination for some of the earliest and most scandalous dirty weekends in history - the Prince Regent, later King George IV, enjoyed using the place for flings with his Catholic mistress while bathing occasionally in the sea water to alleviate his gout...

As with 10 years ago - I walked past but didn't go in...

After spending the afternoon wandering and shopping and reminiscing we headed to the Palace Pier - via a photo opportunity with a breathtaking sunset:

The Palace Pier is kind of like Vegas, but on water and with rollercoasters. It is tawdry and garish and crass and yet, strangely, so much fun.

After much dithering we decided, for old time's sake that while in Brighton.... while on the Pier... well, we really should ride on this....

And then on this...

Despite the fact my internal organs are still trying to find their way home it was a great way to wind up the day - and a great thing we did rides first, dinner second. It was such a special thing to be able to spend the day with Kirsten reconnecting to this huge adventure we had 10 years ago. Sentimental value aside, I do genuinely adore Brighton and in the words of my new canvas bag, "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!"

If they'd had a bag that said "Oh I do like to spend Sundays in my flannelette pajamas because it's too cold to get out of bed - and is that rain or snow or some slushy combination of the two that's falling outside my window?" - well, I probably would have bought that too.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Grey... meet Beige...

Beige has never been my favourite colour and yet colour me miserable that's exactly how I've felt this week. Everything has been an effort - fighting off a good dose of homesickness, pretending not to be disconsolate or upset - about boy specifically or boys generally. I suppose I should be relieved that the adolescent malcontents who thought it hilarious to squirt me in the face with water when I walked past the other day opted for that and not an old school mugging. But I can rain on my own parade thanks very much.

It's a sad (and I fear terribly boring) indictment of my inadvertent maturity that I've found myself with no choice but to suck things up and get on with it the last week because a) there's no appreciable audience for the toy drop I yearn to have and b) it's not like it's going to change anything so why wreck my mascara.

So I have done what all sensible girls do when feeling pitiful and gone out and spent money. Not much of it because, well, I don't have any, but enough to make me feel marginally better. Yay for the Columbia Rd Flower Markets.

Not to be confused by the multidinous calls of "free for a fiver!" - three for a fiver is not a bad deal - except that when you end up with six bunches of flowers, among them lilies and irises, and they start to bloom in the delicious hothouse that is your bedroom, well the effect is unfortunately a little funereal. Fuck don't get me wrong - I'm all for mourning the death of pathetic daydreams involving what you thought were emotionally available men but it does feel a touch OTT... even by my melodramatic standards.

It is nice to have a bit of colour around though - especially when all things East London are grey, rainy and so utterly devoid of romantic possibility. It's dark every day now by 4pm - which is probably why all the Christmas lights in central London are starting to appear. Oh. That and I suppose it's nearly four weeks til Christmas. WHEN did that happen?!

Today notwithstanding I've been pretty good at getting out of the house (the fact such trips have largely been instigated by a lack of diet coke is besides the point) and on Monday night I took myself off to the Tate Modern for a lecture on the history of the Avant Garde in Exhibitions. Unfortunately the lecture itself was kind of uninspiring but walking through Trafalgar Square on the way there, there was this huge video art project taking place called Under Scan by the Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Somewhat spookily, as you walk by or under the lights, a computer tracking system triggers all these interactive video portraits of anonymous people that are then played out in your shadow. This is a blurry action shot...

This is a better image - not taken by me and clearly not taken when dark and raining...

Was pretty cool actually - and I'm on the record as being all for inadvertant art encounters. Yesterday in fact was another good day for all things art. We has a visit to Camden Arts Centre in North London - for a discussion about curating in public galleries but there was a work there called The Library of Secrets by Serena Korda. Not a new concept but it was so engaging and tactile and sentimental, I couldn't help but like it. Back to back shelves of old books, at each end was a booth where you were invited to scribble down your secret and then leave it in the pages of a book for others to then open and read, depending on which book you pulled from the shelves.

Tragic really how many of them had to do with unrequited love but they ran the gamut from this...

To this...
And I thought I had problems. Anyway - I'm off to see more public sculpture later today - I have to give a presentation in my seminar tomorrow on a particular work near Monument, which of course I haven't seen yet. So should probably get out of my pajamas and get on with the day. It is nearly 3pm. Could be time for another tarot card reading...

Thursday, 13 November 2008

If I had a dollar....

... for every instance where a boy has told me I am brilliant, fabulous, special, a generally all-round-tops-one-in-a-million-kind-of-person - oh - but they only want to be my friend - well I would now have five whole dollars. Actually - let's be fair and make it four - the sociopath with mother issues is a cheap dollar won...

Nevertheless. The one day I really do need to be ignored as I cry my way home and how many people should stop and ask me if I'm ok? THREE. Well - one kind man and two morons who leered and yelled "What's up love?" from their car as I walked past. Fuckwits in automobiles notwithstanding here's a question for you - why is that when some kind stranger asks if everything is alright we reply "I'm fine, thank you though" - despite clearly being anything other than. Life Mystery #374. Comes right after Life Mystery #373 - Why are most boys stupid?

And dammit the day started so well. I had my second tutorial this morning - turns out there is something to be said for last minute all-nighters... I got 78 (70 is a distinction) for my essay on the absconding brush mark and topped the year. The words "brilliant" and "exceptional" may even have been used. Clearly not a discussion about my way with men.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Guten tag aus Deutschland

My ambition to write is clearly larger than my ability to conjure cogent thought at this moment in time. I've been sitting here for a full five minutes struggling to come up with a coherent (never mind vaguely interesting...) way of beginning to reflect on the art orgy that has been the last four days. And I still don't know. And there is still one day to go. Welcome to Germany kids.

We arrived in Koln offensively early on Tuesday morning - when I left London it looked like this:

Dark and misty and cold. And 4.30am. By the time we got to Stansted, flew to Germany, arrived in Koln and dumped our bags the last thing any of us wanted to do was spend six hours at the Ludwig Museum, I don't care how fabulous their Pop Art collection is. Well, OK, I cared. But the point is we were tired and hungry and the last thing we wanted to do in said state was to have to find the energy for rigorous intellectual discussion.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

A pinch and a punch

1st of November. Wow. Thanks to the world's best parents I will be heading Bondi-way in seven weeks time for Christmas and a month of family fun and frivolity with friends. Scary to think how quickly Christmas is approaching and scary too to realise it hasn't yet been two months since I arrived.

It's been an emotional couple of days. Yesterday I went to the funeral of a good family friend in Nottingham, who died suddenly and unexpectedly two weeks ago. I've never been to a funeral on my own before - and it's not something I'd like to do again, despite being adopted by two lovely old women who shared their tissues and memories with me. Shock and grief and a profound sense of unfairness make for a heady combination and while I truly believe grief is but a measure of our capacity to love - it doesn't bring them back, does it? The world is certainly a little less lovely for her passing.

Thank goodness for friends - and the comfort of pajamas on cold, wet, miserable, grey days as has been today. Turkish food to beg/steal/plot for and a bottle of wine last night with a friend on her couch and today in situ on my own couch in the company of my best and oldest Peter Alexander's, my similarly-clad and so so lovely flatmate and the Home and Away omnibus. So very sad. So very true. But I like to think an effective antidote to the increasing stabs of longing for warmth and sunshine and sand between my toes.

So YAY for all kinds of distractions - and I don't refer here to five impending days of hard core art in Germany next week...

I am heading out of London again tomorrow - for a walk, no less, through the English countryside.

Hmm. Doing my best to wrangle those latent Mr Darcy fantasies into check and think thick woollen stockings should do the trick. The kind that cover your ribs. Nothing like killing any vestiges of allure with a method actor-esque attempt to understand what it's like to be a fat sausage.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Fit and you know it

I am so unfit. And there are so many kinds of unfit to be - match fit, piss fit, fit fit. I am none of these things. Add to that a complete lack of essay-writing fit and I'm screaming for a Biggest Loser-cum-Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader type makeover.

Farewell daylight my friend




And fade to black........ 5.42pm

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Stalkbook, fuggboots and one mighty fall from grace

How has this come to be? A vigilante card-carrying, eyebrow-raising, scorn-inducing member of the sartorial squad for Crimes Against Humanity... and I sit here wearing ugg-boots. When I say it's a dark, dark day I mean it more than literally (yes the clocks change tomorrow and sunset is scheduled for 4.46pm...)

I loathe ugg boots - their blatant hat-tip to skankiness and lazy up yours to the unspoken rule of "tough shit if they give you blisters/squish your toes/make the balls of your feet throb after only 15 minutes, wear them, they MATCH YOUR OUTFIT and reveal a modicum of effort to FINISH DRESSING". Yes I hate ugg boots. It turns out though I also hate cold tiles, cold English mornings, cold English evenings and socks with holes in them.

I don't feel like myself... Facebook I can almost, albeit somewhat lumpily, sweep under the rug - drunken promises etc etc - but ugg boots? Even as strictly indoor wear? I feel a part of me has been irrevocably changed forever. And for the dirtier not for the better. Already I miss the view from the high heels of sartorial superiority.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Procrastination. Definition: Moi

I can now count on, umm, three fingers the number of days I have until this essay is due and I am still reading, still smacking my head against the books, still checking facebook/yahoo mail/SMH Online 14 times an hour on the off-chance that something, nay, anything, will distract from the burden of post-modernist rhetoric and the 40-year old obtuse ponderings of self-important white men.

For something fun and different I could always just write the bloody thing and get my life back but then I'd have nothing to complain about... and where is the fun in that?

Monday, 20 October 2008

Grey days of blah

It's certifiably cold. I am certifiably snotty and as for "hitting" the books, it feels more like smacking my head against them. I understand now why they gave us a whole week to read for this assignment... three days to remember how to actually read obtuse cultural theory, two days to squander at the library faking doing work, one day to actually start said work and reading and a final and seventh to realise you need at least another seven if you have any hope of succeeding. Am beginning to regret picking the hardest question simply to make a point to my tutor...

Not all doom and gloom though. Cousin John arrived in town today - bringing sadly not sunshine but news and gossip from home and my purple suede heels. Happy days. A lovely meander through Southwark and Westminster - taking in the tourists taking in the sights. Am looking forward to having him in town this week.

Back to school tomorrow. Hmm. Am sure it will be fine - impending essay notwithstanding but we're off to Germany in two weeks - six days of rabid art interrogation and endless coach travel. Makes Contiki sound like a genteel stroll through the English countryside... Am sure it will be amazing but in truth I am exhausted and, after my masochistic episode trawling through photos of Bondi this morning, I am yearning more than ever the arrival of Christmas and a month long sojourn in the warmth and dazzling light of a sunny Sydney summer . Because this kind of grey....

looks good on no-one.

The cold, the pouring rain - these things I don't mind - it's the heavy bleakness of the sky I find so debilitating - though to be fair there have been occasional bouts of blue. But the clocks change next Sunday so the days are about to shrink considerably. Waaa-aaaa-aaaaaah.

So yes. The honeymoon period is probably over. And it's a funny sort of limbo I find myself in now - not quite connected to the ongoings of life in Sydney but yet to really find myself with a routine or recognisable life here in London. Key word being "yet" I suppose. School - despite the whinging - is definately a salve and I am looking forward to returning to London bronzed and relaxed post-Sydney summer to tackle next semester so that has to bode well as far as signs go.

Now if only I could write this essay.... anyone for the 'absent brushmark' in painting c.1960s?

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Recipe for an awesome day

1. Take a 4.30am start and head to Berlin's Schoenefeld airport for a 7.15am flight to London Gatwick.

2. Add a delightful five hour delay and several cranky Germans who have issues with your hand luggage and lack of a clear plastic bag.

3. Cancel the flight two hours into said delay.

4. Spend nine hours in airport terminal after re-collecting checked in baggage while waiting for the 4.10pm flight to London Luton. Say a small prayer of thanks for wifi.

5. Add a 50 minute delay to said later flight and then for added awesomeness stand around in several queues waiting to check-in, clear security, buy food and then board fully packed flight.

7. Enjoy descent into Luton while massaging cold-laden head. Alternatively drive nails into your skull.

8. Run for the bus to London Victoria while carrying all luggage, crossing all fingers that you'll make it the Apollo Theatre in time and abandoning all thought of going home for a shower first.

9. Slide into seat as the curtains go up and leave behind all thoughts of horrendous day while enjoying fabulous campness of musical Wicked with lovely family friend.

10. Be thankful for the dark theatre where no-one can draw comparisons between your appearance and that of the wicked witch.

11. Go home and pass out.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

I (heart) Berlin

Welcome to "Reading Week" - though depending on how you understand Vanity Fair and the Berlin u-bahn map I think it's fairly safe to say there has been little achieved by way of substantial reading yet. It is only Monday.

Am back to London tomorrow after four lovely days in this crazy, cranky but still generally agreed to be pretty fucking cool city. At this time of year every neighbourhood looks like an Andy Goldsworthy work gone loco - the leaves are turning and starting to drop in a spectacle of brilliant autumn shades and we've been graced with glorious sunshine - the perfect weather for biking and flea market trawling and generally feeling alive in the world.

It's been a tonic to say the least as I was on absolute Struggle Strasse when I left London last Thursday. One of the many things I love/hate about London is the fact that no matter what state you're in - inebriated, hysterical, throwing toys and stifling sobs - people will just ignore you. Not even politely. I mean totally and completely fail to recognise your existence. Which, when you happen to be throwing toys from the pram and stifling sobs and snot, is not such a bad thing.

Had a really stressful week at school, everyone turning uber-competitive over the return of first assignments and me managing to succeed at what I do best - which is shredding my self-esteem when I fail to meet the ridiculous standards I set for myself. So yes, a little unsure of how I'm feeling about my imminent return to London, 7.15am flight notwithstanding.

My lovely friend here in Berlin has taken great care of me - turning up looking royally like crap always helps - but it has been lovely to be in the company of a fellow Australian and we have had lots of giggles over the Germans - hereforafter referred to as entschuldigungs (German for "Sorry" and the single most popular word used by tourists when encountering cranky locals who go out of their way to explain that whatever it is you've just done is "verboten" or forbidden...)

The exchange of cultures has made me realise just how exhausting the constant companionship of Americans has been. I love them - but I'm finding myself missing the shorthand of friends and fellow countrymen. And yes men too. The novelty of post-graduate study with 49 other females has well and truly worn off. Though at least we're keeping up the historical precedent - apparently when Henry Moore was teaching sculpture at the Royal College of Arts in London during the 1930s he didn't have a single boy in his classes either. Times like this a girl misses her brothers.

But I digress. Berlin. It's been a pretty cruisy few days - Turkish markets for delicious food and scrappy flea markets for fabulous plastic belts. Have also seen a couple of fantastic art exhibitions at the Hamburger Bahnhof and just generally enjoyed pedalling around Berlin - especially through the Tiergarten. How could you not when it looks like this:

One of the "only in Berlin" art exhibitions we saw was a project on Torstrasse where an entire apartment block was given over to a group of artists to create their own project in each apartment. A pretty interesting idea, especially given that so much of Berlin is dominated by so many gloriously ruined and abandoned buildings. It was a pretty international line-up of artists but the work was phenomenal - each had a completely different understanding of the use of space and the architectural imperatives of each room. Or a complete disregard for it altogether.

One of my favourite works was a wall projection using an old school over-head projector. Apparently the artist came in and drew something new everyday:

Or this artist, whose work was so fragile and yet so evocative - and all the more impressive when you realised it was constructed from wool and staplers:

So yes, it's been a lovely four days - just what I needed and the balance of general outdoors-ness with art and culture (we also took in an afternoon of Dvorak at the Berlin Philharmonic) has been tops. I could keep coming back to Berlin and find new things to love and crazy things to do. Which is good. Because I'm going to need to get out of London again soon.