A Grrr-y But Merry Christmas

Belated Chrissie love to you and yours!

I had a wonderfully chilled out time with relatives in Horsham – my Great Aunty Mary, Uncle Pio and their family. Getting there from London on Christmas Eve was a task though, thanks to storm action knocking out train services (floods, landslips, trees down and power cuts will do that).

But I have to say I was fortunate not to be among those who missed spending the day with their families completely, or spent Christmas Eve, Day and beyond with no power due to widespread outages in the south east of England.

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  • The desperate crowds at the Coach Terminal quickly ruled buses out as a last minute alternative option, after I arrived at Victoria to find pretty much all southern rail services were cancelled. I was seriously considering paying the stupidly huge cab fare or just having a lonely old East London Christmas with a bottle of mulled wine and some cheese, when I saw a train to Three Bridges.

“Three Bridges, is that anywhere near Horsham?!” I asked a random older couple also staring up at the screens. “Well, it’ll get you close” was the answer, and that was good enough for me!

My original ticket had been for the First Class carriage – and I did travel in that section, just standing up crammed against other stressed out people and their luggage, most desperate to reach Gatwick Airport for flights home/to Chrissie holiday destinations.

There was this anxious silence as our train trundled along at a reduced speed (for safety) and more anxious silence when we stopped for an extend period at Purley station… the driver finally announcing “ladies and gentlemen, we’ll have a decision in five minutes..”

The dreaded decision was to make eight packed carriages disembark, and head to the station car park for the one 50 seater bus to Gatwick.

Lining up in the tunnel waiting to escape the crush and get outside, I got talking to a woman – Susan, who was also bound for Three Bridges – she’d convinced her brother to come rescue her from Purley station instead –“Oh you’re going to Horsham? Well we’re headed just beyond there, as long as you don’t mind riding in the back seat with the dog we’ll give you a lift. Let’s get out of here and grab a coffee while we wait for my brother.”

Oh the relief! Oh the gratitude! Paddy the dog was a delight to snuggle next to for the car trip, and on a whim that morning I had bought a big box of chocolates, which I gratefully gave to Susan as I was delivered to my Great Aunt and Uncle’s front gate – Mary was waiting there for me, and tried to usher all inside for a cup of tea.

My Christmas Eve Angels understandably wanted to get home themselves though and so we waved them off – and I said a silent thank you for the kindness of strangers.

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Happy Little Noob.

Ok, at 72 kgs I’m not ‘little’ – but right now I’m happy being a noob on the mat … mostly because I’m just happy to be rolling!

Yay nooby me!

One month after arriving in London, I finally got my big butt to an MMA gym. Why the delay?  A few stressy ‘life’ set up things I had to prioritise – but I have also been enjoying the slight break that packing up and moving overseas has afforded me.

It’s this irresponsible, inconsequential feeling akin to the first little moment you have as a grown up, when you realise you don’t need to ask for permission to go somewhere or to eat dessert before dinner … just being away from home again is so freeing.

It was actually the second time I ate a whole tub of ice cream for tea that I decided I’d better get back to BJJ.  Judging by the tightness of my gi pants, it’s lucky I didn’t leave it much longer.

I know, clean eating FAIL.

I walked in, then straight back out of one MMA gym I found quite close to where I’m living. There’s something about a big dog lounging around on a visibly dirty (black in parts) mat, that’s just not very appealing.

I had much better luck at my second stop – Fight Zone London in Bethnal Green.

Marco Canha (Checkmat) is head instructor, with beginner and intermediate/advanced BJJ classes on offer.

There’s also the all-important S&C along with Muay Thai, Boxing and MMA.

You get the family vibe as soon as you walk into this gym, kids classes obviously help amplify the feeling – as does the sight of adorable gi-clad littlies burning off post-class energy, running about inside the cage!

There were a good 30 people on the mat in my first beginner lesson including four ladies, which was fab.

I’m told white belts regularly stay in the mix for the intermediate/advanced class that follows, but I’m happy hanging in the newbie sessions for now. While not ‘new’ I’m inconsistent, so have a lot of basics to work on along with overall fitness.

Friday night I hit class then stayed back for the open mat – just music, me and a bunch of guys who were pulling moves all over the place while I did something hopefully resembling defending!

I was a red faced, sweaty, crazy-haired, blissed-out mess by the end.

Bring on the next class.

If The Bunk’s A-Rockin’…

I have a new-found appreciation for hostels that sell ear plugs and eye masks.

For cost effectiveness and the social aspect, I chose to base myself in backpacker accommodation when I first moved to London. I’ve never been a fussy traveler, and have previously only had really great experiences staying in hostels. Girls dorms, mixed six, eight, sixteen bed – they’ve been fine. Rowdy on party nights sure, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

After this past fortnight though .. I may be putting conditions on my future bunk bed stays.

From randoms crashing – to dorm mates screwing randoms in bunks at night, in the middle of the day, in shared bathrooms.. I thought I was finally free of the shenanigans when I switched hostels after the first week. But the final straw came (heh) on my first night in the second hostel … when half asleep I automatically handed up a dress that had fallen from the top bunk onto mine.

I later realised the girl above me had a friend, and wasn’t just changing into her pyjamas.

Really, I should have seen it coming when I saw this in the ladies loos.

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‘Stiky’ Boob, anyone?

And this in the stairwell.

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“Wanna come back to my bunk bed?”

Though this message was on the dorm room door – “We have a strict one person per bunk policy.”

Just a tad hypocritical, you know.

** On the jits front – I am FINALLY getting to trying out a few clubs this week! Finding a share house and starting some kind of work has been the priority, then I picked up a cold .. but now I’m kinda settled it’s time to roll – and find me a new home club. *rubs hands together in anticipation*

Packing Panic.

Three months. That’s how much notice I had to give work when I decided to quit my job.

Three months to work out my travel ‘game plan’ (oops, don’t really have one of those!) and pack up my life nice and neatly into plastic storage tubs, for an indefinite period overseas. 

I even gave myself a whole week between my last day at work and boarding the plane – and do you think I was organised?

Ummm no.

I mean, I wasn’t completely disorganised – my car selling, phone plan cancelling, farewell party timeline was perfect .. but the kind of important packing part I left to the night before.

Big mistake when you have way more clothes than you realised, a smaller suitcase than you realised and a ‘heatwave’ in London that messes with your “I’m only taking warm things” plan.

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One of the shortlists…

The Gi simply had to go in first – but it needed a couple of patches sewn on, cue mum painstakingly doing the honours the day before.

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“I don’t have a thimble! This is terrible for my carpal tunnel you know.”

I think I packed, unpacked and packed again about ten times. I begrudgingly filled the suitcase space bags that were meant to be saved for later (post Thailand shopping spree).

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The MMA gloves got left behind. =(

And even now as I sit by a rooftop pool eating cherries in the middle of bustling Bangkok, I’m not happy with my effort.

But – what can you do?! I made the plane, and I made it to Bangers where I’m staying a few days with the lovely Marissa before I continue the hellishly long flight to the UK.

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Obligatory leaving snap – mum still working on the iPhone photo-taking skills.

Dream achieved – time to chase the next one.

Working on a top rating breakfast radio show in your hometown – it doesn’t get much better than that. Until it does – you’re moved to a top rating drive radio show in your hometown.

Hello sleep ins! Hello life!

That’s the bliss I have found myself experiencing this year, after three incredible years reading the news for the Matt and Jo Show on the Fox – and being a ‘Best News Presenter’ finalist at the 2012 ACRAs.

Photo: In2Events.com
Photo: In2Events.com

 

'Star' themed party. My boobs had help.

I’ve worked hard, I’ve moved states for job opportunities, I have set alarms for 2:32am (yes, newsreaders wake up even earlier than breakfast announcers).

I’ve loved every minute of my radio journey – from the clunky graveyard shifts at SYN, to walking to work at 2LM and ZZZ in Lismore with a torch to make sure I didn’t step on cane toads, to the bright lights of Bris (go Roar) Vegas and Nova – to (Melbourne versus) Sydney, and back home to Melbourne.

After I graduated Swinburne’s Commercial Radio course at age 20 and scored my first full time job, I told myself “cap city by 25.”

Grad Dip Arts/Commercial Radio, RIP.
Grad Dip Arts/Commercial Radio, RIP.

My welcome home party was also my 25th birthday bash.

It’s a really weird feeling when you realise you’re working your ultimate dream job, the job you secretly think you may never get to do, but if you come close that’ll be pretty awesome.

And then you realise as awesome as it is, it’s also leaving you craving the next dream.

So I’m taking off in a few months time to chase it, so proud and grateful for everything I have achieved, and all the amazing friends I have made.

I’m nervous and excited – feeling those same emotions I felt when I sat behind a radio microphone for the first time.