27 April 2015

Communication and the redefinition of home to expats

I blearily cracked open an eyelid, my proper first view of a London morning framed by the bright red struts of a dorm room bunkbed. Blinking, I peeped out the window over the sleepily setting up Borough High Street. The sky was overcast with the promise of rain, but I was simply too excited to care as the realisation dawned that it was my first full day on the other side of the world. 28 hours of flying (broken with a long stopover in Singapore) had taken me away from my family, but headlong into the biggest, scarily amazing adventure I could imagine.

Rolling over, I realised that my dorm mates were beginning to stir as well. Heads began to pop up from blue duvets and limbs began to stretch as I rubbed my eyes in utter disbelief. Here I was 11,659 miles from home, and across the room from me were 3 girls I had sat exams with in a small Auckland town; we had shared a few house parties and High School common room gossip, but over the ensuing years lethargy meant we had lost touch. Once the shock had worn off, we celebrated over cornflakes and mugs of coffee before we parted once again. They were off to Scotland on a week long bus tour, but I set about establishing a life here in the capital. 
 Communication and the redefinition of home to expats

What is with all of these musings? It's coming up to my 9th anniversary of stepping onto London Tarmac, and when serendipitiously Lebara contacted me about working together on a post about the joys of expat communication, it seemed like a nice excuse to look back with a few musings on my first few months in a strange country.

25 April 2015

ANZAC Day - Lest We Forget

As you slept this morning, thousands of Kiwis and Australians have spent the pre-dawn hours shivering in their coats - an insignificant hardship as we remember brave servicemen of our countries who gave their all to help the Allied Forces in World War One and Two to protect our right to the freedom of slumbering safely in our beds.

My great-uncle (once removed) who left for war under a false name and age. He survived the war but returned with injuries. 
Slowly in the darkness the crowd begins to thicken, take shape, many around weatherworn memorials thousands of miles away from their birthplaces. A lone speaker takes the podium, and begins to capture rapt attention with sombre words on this chill morning. It is ANZAC day, and we are here to remember.

Choice hymns are sung, anthems played with pride. Heartrending stories are shared, tales of bravery, sacrifice and courage in the face of blind danger. Small children, dressed in their smartest school uniform read beautiful poems of love, war and memory, their homes safe because brave young men lost their lives.

Then, as the sun begins to creep into the sky a lone soldier hauntingly begins to play The Last Post.

Quiet tears fall. The rest of the world slumbers.


If you happened to have to swung by Hyde Park around 5am you'll be welcomed to stay and commemorate our great-grandfathers and grandmothers who gave so much. To give you an idea, the population of New Zealand in 1940 was about 1,600,000 and roughly 140,000 New Zealand men and women served, 104,000 in 2NZEF, the rest in the British or New Zealand naval or air forces. Roughly 30% of our national budget was given over wholly to the war effort and our country tried to help as much as possible.

We remember their hardships on the 25th of April, the day that many of our ANZAC troops were landed devastatingly on Gallipoli beaches, where thousands of young men didn't return from.

"At dawn they landed on the beaches of Gallipoli, and at dawn we rise on the same day each year to pay our respects to Australian and New Zealand soldiers who have fought in conflicts globally. We rise for the Dawn Service because it is tradition, and the first glimpses of sun peering through the clouds helps to remind us that peace is always beautiful. Chloe Westley"

24 April 2015

Friday figments and photos

Thank you for listening, and so kindly empathising with my blabberings a few days ago about blog muses. It's a strange thing but so comforting to know I'm not the only one fretting slightly irrationally about our wonderful hobby!

The Garden Museum London

This week was mainly spent soaking in the sunshine - along with most of the rest of the UK I suspect. If much work got done nationally, I would be very, very surprised. 

22 April 2015

Blogging #firstworldproblems.

I have a very strange problem. I’m finding it weirdly hard to settle into the less frenetic groove of 3 posts a week (plus Fridays). When I was publishing a 6 posts a week it seemed like a fairground train ride that just kept chugging along happily; I had a pattern and variety of posts that I loved to put up – an organiser by nature I felt grounded in my routine: Monday – London, Tuesday – Books, Wednesday – Foodie something, Thursday – Travel, Friday – Figments and photos, Saturday – anything that took my fancy.

...just another brick in the wall...
Like so many of the blogging folk*, for me blogging is a creative outlet to make up for a pedestrian 9-5 <insert a good ole bit of Dolly Parton here>. It’s been a wonderful way to make friends in the London expat community, find out a few insane secrets of my adopted city, bring a bit of creativity into the day and a fantastic excuse for making brunch dates.