Sunday, 18 September 2011


I know I've been incommunicado for ages, and loads has been happening that I really should be telling my nearest and dearest about (yes, I'm talking specifically to you Mother, Dad, Elisabeth and Tönchen). I'm writing this on the train, so I should be able to get a few words down.

So, as everyone knows I went to Iceland again in May, and came home at the end of July to start my new job in Sydney. While in Iceland I did work for the linguistic crew over there at the University of Iceland, different to what I was doing before (which was a postdoc), but in the same place and with the same people. Basically I was transferring some Icelandic and Faroese data from pieces of paper in boxes and hidden on computers in Iceland only to a more communal, online space that all the linguists in Scandinavia are contributing to, and it needed to be tidied up and sorted through a bit first. I didn't have time to get it all done while over there, but I just this weekend finished off the last things I needed to do :D I haven't finished with all of my academic work yet, but at least that job is complete now.

While in Iceland I also danced - tangó and salsa rueda (as lead) as usual, but also learnt more bachata. I lived with Beggi, and we went on hikes and rode our bikes and danced and cooked dinners together, all very domestic and nice.

I came back to Australia at the end of July, via a few days in Denmark with my friends Anne and Steen out at their country home on Langeland. I went straight to Melbourne, spending a couple of days talking to Luce and packing a car load of stuff to bring to Sydney. I spent two days driving up, leaving Friday evening, stopping after four hours and camping in a truck stop by the side of the road. There was frost overnight, but my trusty tent and Norwegian winter doona kept me toasty :)

I arrived in Sydney, getting horribly lost once I entered the suburbs - sometimes you have to turn right from the left lane and sometimes you have to turn left from the right lane, and whenever I missed my turnoff like this, there would be several kilometres of divided road... I drove over bridges and along by the waterfront and made all kinds of detours to get to the place I now live at in Eastwood.

I started work at Appen on the first of August, Beggi arrived on the Friday of that week, and we've been living with Hui Ling, who I've known for many years now. My work is really interesting and the people are great, so that is making my days pass very quickly.

At the end of August, Beggi, Brent and I headed over to San Francisco (left Sydney at 9am Sunday morning, arrived at SF at 10am!) and then Lake Tahoe for Dan and Kellea's wedding. We used to find a place to stay for the first few nights, and stayed with a lovely woman in San Rafael, about half an hour's drive north of SF. We took the ferry past Alcatraz into SF, saw the Golden Gate Bridge in seven different kinds of fog, went to the Castro, rode a trolley car, went up Lombard St and had lunch at Boudin's at Fisherman's Wharf. We had lunch on another day in the Muir Woods among the Coastal Redwoods. Photos forthcoming!

Then we drove to Nevada City and splashed about in the river with the family, then headed to Kellea's sister's farm to pick fresh vegetables and flowers for the wedding, then drove out to Lake Tahoe. There were several days of getting to know the family, playing on the jetski (Brent drove madly enough to turf the two of us off, then I threw me and Beggi off), kayaks (depending on whose interpretation you use, I either won or came second in the kayak competition. Brent won his heat, but chose a different, 'faster' kayak for his semi-final, which he couldn't get a purchase on and was subsequently a no-started in that race!), and paddle-boats, lazing about the back-yard, going for runs up the hills/ski-area behind our motel and going for a drive around the lake. Brent and Dan went to the casino (gambling is legal in Nevada, which was only a couple of miles up the road - Lake Tahoe has foreshore in both California and Nevada), and Beggi and I did a little bit of dancing. The wedding was well populated, it was good to have several days to get to know Dan's new family, and there was karaoke in the night-time. Hannah arrived from London for the weekend too, so we had a few of the crew on board supporting Dan :)

Finally we drove back to SF via Palo Alto. All the Americans thought we were crazy and wouldn't have time to catch our flight, but we had our GPS on our phone, I had downloaded the free MapDroyd for California, and, with stops at cafes to use the wifi and Google Maps, we muddled our way through. We found Google, and wandered around there for a bit, updating our Facebook statuses on the Google Guest Wifi using our Android phones. We also tried, and after three attempts, found a sports shoe shop that was having a sale. We spent about $150, buying 3 pairs of shoes and lots of socks, laughing all the way to the bank with the exchange rate finally the way we want it :D

We made it home on Thursday, I went back to work on Friday. That weekend I finished a journal I was editing, sending it off and ticking one more academic thing off my list. I still have a couple of papers to complete - the next one on my list is to translate a short paper into Icelandic. Having Beggi around should make that slightly easier... I hope!

Sydney is very big, I'm finding it slightly intimidating. It's probably okay if you grew up here, but there are so many things to learn about the place - where to find the best food, the best route to get to work, etc. I'm riding my bike to work each day, exactly 14 kms, I just discovered. This takes me from just under an hour on Mondays to just over an hour on Fridays and rainy days, from when I leave to when I'm showered, changed and at my desk. It's been nice to discover that Sydney drivers are nowhere near as rabid about bikes on the road as I thought they were. I do stick to quiet roads and the bike path beside Epping Road as much as I can, but I am happy to report that they have been nearly 100% courteous, giving me my space, not cutting me off, and allowing me to be there. I feel like they're not quite sure what to do with me, so I'm very pleased to learn that they seem patient. I think the 40km/hr speed limits in the mornings really help too, people are not as rushed as they would be if they thought they could be driving much faster if I wasn't on the road too.

I'm looking forward to the weather warming up, it feels like it's been forever since it's been hot. The BoM threatened us with 30 degrees today, but if it got there at all it was only momentary, and it sat closer to 20 all afternoon. Bah! I want summer!

That's all for now, sorry for massive time between updates and this huge update. Sydney is treating me well, Brent will be coming up for his birthday on Wednesday, so the cousins and at least one aunty are getting together for the occasion. We're looking at coming to Melbourne for Christmas, not to mention the Prom for Australia Day week, so we'll see people soon!