Weekend in Pictures

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I’ve got to admit I surprised myself with an impressively full, for me, weekend! After several slumpish weeks I decided I needed to do something to change things, so on Tuesday, before the middle of the week crawl hit, I planned a weekend of activities in London. Though there were a few times when I tempted just to stay at home and hibernate (but knowing I’d berate myself again for being a useless hermit) – my aunt aptly described the logistics of organising my friends: ‘like herding cats’ – everything fitted together nicely like a jigsaw.

I travelled to London on Friday night.

By their nature I think rail stations are pretty grim places, so I appreciated this cheerful little touch in Ipswich station as I made my way to London.

Spotting this on one of the trains in London made me smile. Almost made up for the fact I'd jumped on the wrong train!

On Saturday morning I took my Granny out for a wheelchair walk along the Thames. We watched these scullers by Hampton Court. She later reported she had a very nice visit from her daughter-in-law. I guess she got it close enough, though I'm interested to know who she thinks her son is!

In the afternoon I visited Wisley. Though my friend thought it would be a washout to the point of not bothering to come, I still found a rainbow of colours and lots of textures. I also hope my company’s clients have generous budgets when I get to design their planting plans, I have made long lists of plants I’d love to include!

Colours and textures at Wisley

Saturday evening I met up with friends at an Iranian restaurant. Pomegranite and walnut sauce stew highly recommended!

Sunday morning went to see the Wildlife Photography exhibition at the Natural History Museum. I had lots of favourite photographs, though none of them were the winners actually selected by the judges!

Tern Style by Ilkka Rasanen. In a children's category no less! I would say it is well worth visiting, but Sunday was its last day! I think it will be touring the UK now, so in fact not too late to see it. It has inspired me to plan more photography focused outings, as well as just carrying my camera around for opportunistic snaps.

One of my own much more boring photos:

Exhibition Road, by the Natural History Museum, V&A, Royal Geographic Society and close to the Royal Albert Hall, has recently undergone a makeover, turning it into 'shared space'. With reduced road markings and no pavements, it is meant to be more pedestrian friendly and less car orientated. Its had mixed reviews, but considering that I was with two other landscape architect friends and none of us could agree on the 'rules of the road' in this scheme, I don't blame the general public for being a bit confused too! General consensus is that, unless its a very quiet Sunday afternoon, as it was, it is probably still best that pedestrians don't cross the road with a blind fold on!

We came across a nice Lebanese restuarant where we were talked into ordering far too many, but equally delicious, mezze dishes. I must have been inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine weekend (by chance I’d bought a carrot-coriander-houmous sandwich at Wisley too!) as I absent mindedly stocked up on houmous today in the supermarket.

Feeling well stuffed, had time just to dash back to pick up my stuff and start my mission of a journey to get home on Sunday night (thanks Greater Anglia, your rail ‘improvements’ had better be worth it!)

One other positive thing from last week:

7th March: Leaving work in the daylight for the first time this year!

Christmas Week in Pictures, 19th – 25th December

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I’ve felt like it’s taken a long time to start feeling Christmassy this year (not necessarily a bad thing!), but even without any snow, things have felt a bit more festive this week. Even the push on deadlines this week has added a certain je ne sais quoi to the spirit.

I hope everyone’s week and especially this weekend has been as least frazzled as possible, and maybe even fun!

Monday, 19th December

A chirpy robin who followed me a little way to work!

Tuesday, 20th December

Londontown!

My office met up with the company's other offices in London, and we went galavanting off along the Jubilee Line (mainly to Canada Water, the O2 & Canary Wharf) in only the way a bunch of landscape architects could, oohing, aahing and turning our noses up at various paving slabs, walls and tree pits!

Wednesday, 21st December

Two be-wreathed doors. Not quite a pair but I like them for their own tastes.

22nd December 2011

My last day in Suffolk til the new year. Deadlines not quite as bad as I'd feared, even managed to get out at lunch to do a tiny bit of Christmas shoppping, where I came across this windmill at the top of the town. I'm not sure of its history.

23rd December

Helping wrap up the London office's Christmas deadlines today, a familiar morning commuting sight again, though the mornings are a bit darker than a month ago!

24th December

We've arrived in Wales. My grandparents' house hasn't quite sold yet, so as consolation my family are able to use it again this Christmas! We're last minute people, the tree's still looking quite empty at this stage!

25th December

A Merry Happy Christmas!

A Cassava Pie lunch. Slightly out of place in Wales, but for that maybe even yummier!

Week (and a day) in Pictures, 21st – 28th October

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Friday, 21st Otober

After ping ponging my way across London to get from Rotherhithe to Covent Garden (it’s not a straight forward route at the best of times), I decided to take a photo of the tube map, so I’d always have one close to hand and not need to squint across the carriage. Shame I then went and deleted this photo as I could have done with it several more evenings this week!

Saturday, 22nd October

Chelsea at Kew Garden

Having survived my first 2 1/2 days of work, I was expecting to be crashed out this weekend. So it was a pleasant surprise to wake up and find myself with a bit of energy, enough to take in a quick visit to Kew Gardens. This photo is of a recreated Chelsea Flower Show garden entry. They’ve been replanting it through the seasons:

24th May: A profusion of medicinal herbs in the original garden at Chelsea

2nd October: End of the summer flowers

Sunday, 23rd October

Apparently I wasn’t gardened-out enough yesterday, so set off for Wisley Garden this morning!

All kinds of orchids at Wisley.

Oxalis - I had to take this photo for fun as this plant is the biggest weed at home, yet here it was practically put on a pedestal in the Alpine House! While photographing it I bumped into someone else equally bemused by it. She is some I know from home...small world!

Monday, 24th October

Til now I'd been quite rude about the Shard. Tonight though it was quite pretty with its shimmering lights against the soft evening sky

Tuesday, 25th October

Cake Shop, from the bus

Having got fed up of jumping on the wrong trains in the wrong directions, I decided it was safer to take the bus. (wished I’d kept Friday’s photo on my camera)! Sometimes  I enjoy the bus, like being able to see where I’m going, and salivating over these yummy cakes in shop windows. Though the excitement soon wore off after five minutes of sitting in traffic…

Wednesday, 26th October

Pot of gold in the Thames!

The view from the office, and nearly from my desk! It pleased me that others in the office were equally excited by the rainbow, and were snapping photos too. The other important thing that pleases me is that the provision of tea is formally written into my contract!

Thursday, 27th October

Drizzly weather then dead batteries meant a photo-less day.

Friday, 28th October

A hazy morning view from the office. A handful of people were out at low tide with their metal detectors . Maybe looking for Wednesday's leprechaun treasure?

 

 

Welcomed to the World of Work

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I’ve managed to survive an entire week of work!

It feels like everything has happened so quickly: within a month of flying over to England to job hunt, hearing about a potential job, applying, being interviewed, then offered a job, I’ve been working as a real live landscape architect for over a week! The speed of this is only rather offset by the fact that it has taken me over a quarter of a century to reach this point! Though then it is probably equally understandable why this past week and month have felt like a total blurred whirlwind!

Although I am only on a temporary contract, and it’s a slightly odd situation as I am just filling in til the person they want to employ can start, I am so grateful that I was in the right place at the right time to be able to take up this opportunity.

I’d been imagining the inevitability of work and life for me as an upside down parabolic curve: When I was younger, getting older meant starting work was evermore inevitable. At the age of 18 that’s what you do, right? – leave home, go out into the world of work, set up a new home and begin your life. Although going to university achieved the first bit: leave home, it initially pushed away the inevitability of work, and further still when I didn’t know what I wanted to do or had the skills to do, so started a post-grad course. On the back of a bad reaction to stress in 6th form, again during undergrad and rather more than just stress during post-grad, I began to really question whether I could ever cope with combining looking after myself healthily and do something else at the same time. Getting older and still not working made it seem like the inevitableness was turning slowly, then faster and faster towards inevitably never doing anything.

As for the third and fourth bits of the inevitableness: set up a new home, begin your life. Ha! The worry of work has taken care of those things not really happening. I feel like that’s the saddest thing to admit, because of course working should just be one portion of life. But for now I’m trying to ignore that, as I’m already doing a pretty good job of making myself feel like a crap person. I wish I could multitask, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about myself in the last few years, it’s that I really can’t cope when I get ahead of myself, and one thing to do is to take things gently, step by step, clearly, simply, logically.

Which is why I’m grateful for this job. Hopefully it shows my life isn’t a crashing parabolic curve after all, and will give me the confidence to apply for a full time, permanent job so that soon I can tick the box on going out into the world of work. Now I can look forward to the next step of putting my energy into setting up a new home. Well, not to get ahead of myself, I’ll do that once I actually have a permanent job in a permanent location where I can start to feel settled and not be living on a sofa! (I’ll also continue to ignore that life isn’t meant to happen in nice step by step stages…)

 

 

Week in Pictures, 14th – 20th October

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Friday, 14th October

Popped out to get a few things from the shops, tried to continue last Wednesday’s alphabet photo walk with a safer ‘N’ photo!

N for Nasturtium

Saturday, 15th October

Visited more friends in Cheltenham again. A couple of us took a walk up Leckhampton Hill, which gives a beautiful view down onto the town. It’s funny how the hill was always there, yet this was only the third time I actually walked up it (and one of the times was for fieldwork, so that barely counts!)

Cheltenham

Having been put off by the grime that I imagine London fruit to be covered in, I took the opportunity to collect some country clean sloes, for gin, and blackberries for whiskey.

Sunday, 16th October

Geocaching on Wimbledon Common! The clue referred to the ‘O’ tree, and my aunt immediately knew where to lead me, without bothering with maps or co-ordinates. (Though it took some more scrambling though holly bushes to find the cache itself!).

The 'O' tree. It would be hard to miss this strange oak. I can't figure out how it grew as it did.

Monday, 17th October

Day of freakery. In the evening (so in fact I can’t use this as an excuse for the lack of a photo) I received the offer of a short term contract from the landscape architecture company I applied to a couple of weeks ago! Basically I’m covering for the person who got the advertised job, but who can’t start immediately. But nonetheless it’s my first EVER proper non-student job offer!!! Very exciting though my level of freakouted-ness is even higher! Luckily I start on Wednesday, so there is a limit to the time I can spend working myself into a knotted mess! (hoping the number of !’s in this paragraph is a good sign!)

Tuesday, 18th October

Trying to distract myself with mundane worries over what on earth to wear in an office! So a trip to the new Westfield. Given my distaste for mooching round shops, this wasn’t a very stress relieving outing. I was more taken by the Christmas ornaments and long green wall!

Unflattering but shiny!

Westfield's Green Wall

Wednesday, 19th October

Just about survived my first working day (well no tears in the office at least). I also only managed a part day as I was already invited to a service at St Paul’s Cathedral in honour and memory of CMG’ers, where my grandfather’s name was read out. I’d forgotten, til I was on the train, that OccupyLSX was happening right there too! Became literally entangled in it – very sorry to the person whose tent I tripped over!

Inadvertently sightseeing at the OccupyLSX, I was also a bonafide visitor to the St Paul's evensong. Heartfelt messages inside and outside the Cathedral!

Thursday, 20th October

Zonked. Tea and bed. Good night!

 

Week in Pictures, 7th – 13th October

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A fair number of geo-caches, miles back and forth the UK and a run in with the police. I suppose a good week on the whole!

Friday, 7th October

After seeing this amazing looking fruit, I became a bit despondent that the most exciting part of my day was just a piece of fruit. So I took myself off onto the Pembrokeshire cliffs to search for a geo-cache! It was a quick find and the view did cheer me somewhat.

View from the geo-cache

All in all things must be good if fruit and cliffs make me happy!

Saturday, 8th October

Travelling back to London from St Davids, this afternoon.

Heading towards Port Talbot. The light on the hills caught my eye.

Evening light in reflection, in reflection

Crossing the Severn Bridge

Sunday, 9th October

Went for a geo-caching walk along the Thames, between Hammersmith and Putney Bridges, south side there, north side back.

Lots of activity on the Thames, by Putney Bridge

Monday, 10th October

Day trippin’, Cheltenham bound.

A day spent gallivanting about my old uni, enjoying being there without the stress of deadlines. Catching up with uni friends, uni tutors, taking in the newly released geo-caches.

Paddington Station

Tuesday, 11th October

Visited my Granny and took her for a wheelchair walk to the Thames, with a bag of stale bread.

Got Crumbs?

Wednesday, 12th October

L is for Leaves

I tried to entertain myself on a walk to Tesco by photographing things in the order of the alphabet. I was doing quite well til I got a bit stuck on N. Eventually I decided to cheat and go for Names on signs, so took a quick snap of the high street in Hammersmith with loads of shop signs. Immediately I was apprehended by a couple of policemen who certainly didn’t buy my story that I was innocently taking a photo of the names of shops in the street! They were convinced I was wanting to take a photo of them, which is apparently Highly Illegal. Who knew. I wished I’d had the confidence to tell them they were quite ugly and had spoilt my photo anyway. Or maybe it’s lucky I didn’t have that confidence after all! Managed to hold the tears in just long enough to not look totally suspicious, but was too scared afterwards finish the alphabet of photos. Ironic that I was taking photos supposedly as a relaxing and enjoyable thing to do…

Thursday, 13th October

Did my best to avoid policemen today, and used mostly just my sketchbook. A friend and I went landscape architecture sightseeing today in SE London, through Greenwich and then More London and Potter’s Fields.

Linear planting beds in More London

Celebrating my first job application!

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Today I dropped my first job application and portfolio off! Given my stresses over university over the past few years, and especially the final year, this is quite major for me and I thought it was worth of a post of its own!

At the moment I am figuring that I will be happy to make 50-60 job applications and attend 14 interviews before I give up/change tack. The first few I will definitely treat as practices. Rather arbitrary figures, but I’m trying to keep the pressure off myself for now, as I know that stress won’t help anything.

To celebrate, I met up with a friend to visit the Serpentine Pavilion.

 The 2011 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Peter Zumthor

A rather unassuming black box building – I’m not surprised I missed it when I first tried to visit in August. In fact it is in Kensington Gardens, not Hyde Park as I’d been told, so that is another reason why we didn’t spot it the first time.

According to the blurb, it is inspired by fenced Alpine kitchen gardens. I’m not sure I would have guessed that! A narrow, dark corridor wraps around the inside edge of the building, and contrasts to the airy flower spikes and seedheads in the courtyard garden within the building. The plants were especially bright with the backlit sun streaming through them.