A Travellerspoint blog

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I went to London

...to visit the Queen

rain 3 °C
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I have never really felt the effects of “hitting a wall.” Today I did. It wasn’t just any kind of 3:30itis. I kind of felt like what I imagine marathon runners feel as they stagger across the finishing line. I wanted to go on (there’s so much to see!!) but my feet just wouldn’t let me. I have clocked up some serious kilometers in the last three days and blisters are forming on top of blisters. If it wasn’t so bloody cold I would have curled up under a tree in Kensington Gardens for a power nap.

It was 4 degrees today… then add the wind chill factor. Brrr! It makes me shiver just thinking about it.
Needless to say, my thermal underwear, scarf and beanie have not been removed since I got here. It’s hard to believe that just last week I was wearing swimwear at the beach.

Anyway, the second leg of the Etihad flight was much better. A fresh faced crew and a delightfully upbeat ‘good morning!’ as we boarded made all the difference. I sat next to Warrick, a chap from NZ who also wasn’t very chatty. That suited me – I am not much of a morning person as most of you know.

When we got to London the captain’s GPS seemed be malfunctioning

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– as we were stuck in a holding pattern for an extra half hour. This is definitely something that you don’t want to hear after already being on a plane for the last 22 hours... although what’s another 30mins eh? I guess it gave me extra time to again, try and put my boots on. I hadn’t removed my socks for the entire time so hadn’t really checked out the cankle situation, all I knew was that it was bad.

A two hour wait at the UK border didn’t really seem that long to begin with but as I slowly crept up the line it was a mixed experience of a zombie-like ‘need sleep’ and a kid-in-a-candy-shop “ OMFG I am in LONDON!”

A little bit of anxiety poked its head up when I couldn’t find my travel pack (courtesy of the long wait in customs) but I found it, organized an oyster card and navigated my way on the tube to Hotel Earls Court easily enough.

As expected the hotel was small and dodgy – but it had a clean bed and shower and that is all I ask. It was on a main road so it was very noisy when I first arrived but as the night progressed it became quieter – until a police or ambulance rocketed past with their sirens on. If their patients aren’t deaf when they pick them up they certainly will be afterwards.

Nevertheless it was also close to the Tube and at the end of the street there was a TESCO (Coles/woolies equivalent). This was handy for a sandwich dinner... or was that breakfast? It also really didn’t matter about the noise because as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out like a light.

I didn’t really feel the effects of jetlag for too long as I slept from about 9pm London time all the way through til morning, got up and my body had magically reset itself.

So it was off for a day’s adventuring!
It was cold and wet and rainy.
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But SO UNLIKE the cold, wet and rain experienced at Bondi… and NOT AT ALL like the cold, rain and WIND experienced the following day. BRRR! I do thank Leonie wholeheartedly for lending me her warm, wind proof, rainproof jacket. It has been a lifesaver.
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I started my journey through Hyde Park, which somehow turned to Kensington Gardens and into Green Park, St James’ Park and then back to Hyde.
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If anyone has even been to London you would know that that is a lot of bloody walking! Along the way I saw the Marble Arch
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Buckingham Palace
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Albert Memorial
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National Gallery – snooze worthy. Ok so shoot me. I just don't see the appeal of looking at old paintings of Jesus.

Italian fountains
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Royal Albert hall
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A squirrel!

I also made it into Leister Square, Trafalgar Square and spotted Shrek on Drury Lane.
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I also stumbled across M&M world. Wow. I didn’t even know this existed. 4 LEVELS full of M&Ms merchandise. They even had ‘mix technicians’ where you can watch staff dressed in lab coats through a glass window putting different coloured M&Ms into souvenir bottles. Haha how Willy Wonka.
They also had a wall of every coloured M&M (chocolate and peanut) where you could mix and match your own take home packs at a hefty price.

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At one point I also found the Picadilly markets which I made a beeline to because it was inside... and inside = warmth. There were some professional buskers all with string instruments and one with a flute. They were absolutely brilliant and filled the entire hall with a fantastic atmosphere. I found myself gravitating back to them several times to listen some more.
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I’ve also been window shopping in Oxford and Regent streets. It’s kind of depressing actually because I am not buying anything, at least not until I have a place to live in longer than a week. I also went to check out Harrods. It was amazing to see all the designer clothes, fancy chocolates and sparkling crystal homewares, but I found it quite boring because a) when would I ever wear designer clothes and b)I am on a backpacker budget.

A highlight so far as been the Science Museum – I’m a nerd I know – but they had a great space and human body exhibit. I found out that I had a female brain (lucky!), that I am going to look pretty good as I age, and that I am ok at remembering facial features if I ever have to give a description to a police sketch artist.
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They had this awesome earth exhibit that looked like a hologram. It was a big rotating ball that they projected images on from the telescopes and moon missions. They even had the weather patterns for the last 2 months and the flight paths of all the planes! It was really cool.
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They also had a moon rock - and after watching Apollo 18 before I left home, I looked very closely to see if it was indeed a rock, and not a rock that grew legs and ate you from the inside. The sign said it was kept in a nitrogen filled chamber so it never comes into contact with the Earth's atmosphere (and so it won't eat you).
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The other day I travelled by Tube to see Big Ben, which chimed as I was walking beneath it. :) Then I walked across West Minster Bridge to the London Eye. I didn't have a ride because it and was overcast and cloudy so I didn't think it was worth paying money to see just as much as I could at ground level. Maybe I'll go back on a sunny day.

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I didn't make it to the Tate Modern Gallery on this day because I had to make my way back to the Hostel so I could get ready to see the Lion King. squee!! My first show in West End.
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It was a great show, but it was hard to adjust to a Simba with an English accent, and a female Rafiki shaman instead of a monkey. Pumba and Timon were hilarious as always. They also added some more songs in comparison to the movie, which fitted in with the story, but they just didn't fit with the running word-for-word script I had playing in my head. lol

Also, its amazing who you can run into halfway across the world.....

I caught up with Caitlin (my old Mackay housemate) yesterday and we went to check out Portobello Markets in Notting Hill and got photos in front of the Blue Door. My post- visit research reveals that it was not the real one that was in the Notting Hill movie... but its a blue door nonetheless! ha ha. We then followed bad google map directions to a pub where I had my first real English meal -Banagers and Mash with a glass of Pimms.

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Today Friday 9 March - I have stayed in the hostel all day apart from going out for about half an hour to buy some food and a restock of tissues. I spent most of the morning horizontal with a head cold and it feels like my brain leaks every time I get up. haha hmm I guess it had to hit me sooner or later. Hears hoping my immune system fights quickly. :-)

Posted by KylieClark 12:29 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london gallery hostels bigben hydepark buckinghampalace sciencemuseum Comments (2)

Holi - The Festival Of Colours

Welcoming the Spring.. Indian Style!

semi-overcast 12 °C
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All I can say is - Thanks for technology and the world of Facebook. It allowed a reconnection that turned out to be a really fantastic improptu day out. :)

It involved meeting new people, a game of street chess, lots of paint, laughs and funny looks.

Today I met up with Sarah, a girl I used to work at Brisbane QBD with some 5 or so years ago, her friend Stephanie and her friend Jasmine. We went to Twickham to help celebrate Holi - an Indian festival that celebrates the beginning of a new season, the enjoyment of Spring's abundant colours, good harvests and fertile land. It is also supposed to have a religious purpose commemorating events that are present in Hindu mythology.

..So really its a good excuse for everyone to get together and have a powdered paint fight, listen to music, dance, and have a good time!


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Posted by KylieClark 15:24 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged holifestival Comments (0)

London Bridge is falling down

Thrown in the deep end.

rain 5 °C
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Well, it’s been a while - A month in fact. Why? Because each time I have sat down to write something I have either been angry or upset, interrupted, utterly exhausted or all of the above... and as much fun as it would be for you to read my raw and emotive words, I have left most of them immortalized through pen on paper instead (Thanks DS girls). This post however, will still not be all bunnies and rainbows.

So where to start? I’ll pick up from where I left off… seems like the most logical thing to do!

…I left when I was still in London and giant Easter Egg hunting with Sarah, Steph and Jasmine. The big Egg Hunt is a charity event that’s running in central London as part of the Queen’s jubilee. There are 209 giant ceramic Easter Eggs hiding in different places– hanging across streets, in shop windows, in gardens etc that you have to find and sms in a code to the production people. The person who finds them all wins a golden egg that’s worth lots of $$. There is even a “Where’s Wally” painted egg and it changes location every couple of days so it makes it harder to find! I had to leave the girls on their mission when we had only managed about 30.

I managed to make my way to London Bridge, and the far more impressive Tower Bridge. I saw a few other interesting things along the way and stopped to have a jacket potato in the sun on the bank of the river Thames.

The following week I made my way to Hatfield on the train after I finally figured out how to navigate my way around the big Paddington station national rail service. I was on my way to Hatfield as for the next 5 days (which turned out to be only 3 days) I was doing the mandatory training to begin in a role as a live-in carer…if only I really knew what I was getting myself into.

I was thankful having already come from a background in disability as the training wasn’t all that great. I would have hated being a Jo Blogs off the street and be thrown into this job after 3 days of sitting in a classroom. I must admit playing around with hoists and aids was fun as we all got a go at being ‘patient’ and ‘carer’, but learning about catheter and bowel care... not so fun. We had silicon models of “Pete the Penis” and “Betty the bum” to show us how to do things. I don’t care but there is NO WAY that I am sticking my finger into a real person’s bum to dig out their poo. Thankfully, my client doesn’t need that.

I am kinda glad that the training only went for 3 days because after being able to walk around outside for 8+ hours a day for the previous week (and having not worked for a month prior!), being in a class room environment was very difficult and draining (and they didn’t even supply me with a fiddle toy…not even a clicky pen!) – I am sure my DS colleagues can back me up on these essentials. Haha. However, I am also disgusted that people with no care experience can get placed with ONLY 3 days of general knowledge.

By the 4th day, I was travelling about 1hr north of London as I had already been matched with a client. Holy shit. Talk about life changing. From having absolutely no responsibility- waking up when I wanted, being outside when I wanted, and being able to dictate my day how I wanted to A WHOLE LOT of responsibility was a bit of a shock to the system.

Now, I would describe myself as a tolerant person. Nothing much really fazes me. I get along with majority of people, but when you couple that with being yanked out of holiday mode overnight, with no previous carer handover, 2+ weeks of more than one sleep interruption per night, a person who is unwell, non verbal and wheelchair bound and is dependent on you for almost EVERYTHING… somewhere along the line I was going to snap and my eye was going to start twitching.

And one day, I did.
(well as calmly and diplomatically as I could).

This was the day the word ‘hate’ also entered my vocabulary. ‘Hate’ does not enter my personal dictionary or inner monologue very often. It is such a harsh word, but it has now forcefully entered my life and stuck around. I want to get rid of it, but I don’t think I will until my contract is up and I can go back to living my own life instead of somebody else’s.

I hate being here.

My shoulder angels continue to banter because on the other side I can totally empathize about what it would be like to have to rely on someone else after living an independent life before. I can (try to) understand the frustration and guilt and the need to type ‘give up…’ but I guess I will never truly know what it is like unless it happens to me. Although if it does happen to me, if I ever become so physically disabled that I am reliant on everyone else, I am sure I would have Dr Kevorkian on speed dial.

But all that aside, I am a human being too. I have feelings. They get hurt just like everyone else, and without a functional working relationship we’re going to get nowhere... fast. (and my mental health is going to jump ship too).

I feel selfish that I am so utterly elated that my client has been in hospital for the last week. I can now totally understand those parents and carers that drop their kids off at the door just for a bit of respite. I continue to do the care thing (help to wash, feed, dress, keep company) everyday but now its like I go to work and then I come home…its not 24 hours. I sleep through the night as there are no night carers coming in at 2am.

Today, I was actually able to have FUN with my client while blasting the music I put on her electronic communication board whilst running, pushing and doing wheelies with her while shes still in her wheel chair down the hospital corridors…. Then return her to the ward with windswept hair and having seen a smile on her face (and the people we roll past!). It is those little things (before she indicates for me to piss off, lol) that keep me going until the next day. I must relish in this while I still can as once she is back home things are going to be a lot more demanding.

I have wondered ‘what the hell am I doing?” more than once over the last few weeks. Comments from her family members, though not meant to be hurtful, have an underlying incompetent tone which add to the mix… and they are right. I am not a nurse. I am not a mother, I have never done anything like this before in my life. I have had to learn a lot, and very fast.

I have been planning my escape since week 1, and skyping friends and family back home has been a godsend. I am at a conundrum of what to do work-wise when heading into the next chapter of this trip as I want to get out of the realm of the ‘caring profession.’ I am done with trying to sort out everybody else’s shit. It’s time to work on my own.

{photos to come. The internet is not playing nice}

Posted by KylieClark 09:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged liveincarer Comments (0)

5th week hell: An unsent letter

Anger and sadness on paper. I give up.

semi-overcast 2 °C
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It makes me feel sick. Sick to the stomach, that people are dissatisfied with my actions. What am I supposed to do? I am doing the best that I can. I don’t know what else to do. I am not a nurse. Your ball of negative energy is suffocating me and I just want to get out of here.

NOW.

I am glad that you are going out, and that I don’t have to go with you. Spend time with those that really do care. Because at this precise moment - I don’t.

I am entitled to a break everyday, of which I haven’t had in full for the last week you’ve been home because I have been taking you to your multitude of appointments – in locations that I personally dislike and avoid going to even for myself.

I am here to help and work WITH you, not against you. But you just don’t get that your actions are causing me significant emotional harm.
I hate it here, I want to cry. As a matter of fact, I have done. More than once. Not that you would know, as I believe, that you think there is no one else in your world except you.

You should make more effort because without me as your support for day to day things, you would remain in bed, in your own waste and starve to death. No amount of pointing to the air will get you out of that.

I am also done with providing emotional support to you when you cry and wish you were 6ft under. Whenever I think I have had a win with you, that we are getting somewhere and building some sort of rapport, when we have a laugh, you just stab me in the back, get frustrated, try to hit me, and push me away not 10 minutes later. Then that makes me have horrible thoughts of not cutting up your spaghettios small enough.

I have lost the buzz I once had, the smile that people always commented on. It’s gone and I want it back. I guess I have you, and this situation to thank for that. Don’t despair, I take some responsibility too, I accepted the request to be here just as you did, but there is no need to treat me the way that you are. I don’t want to get to the point of no return. I want to be able to leave here and still be functional… and it not take me weeks to be able to have fun again.

I have told you most of this – to your face - so it is not a state secret.

I hate that I told two of my favourite visitors today, that I am leaving. Both of them shook their heads saying ‘noooo!’ I even got a hug from one of them. Loved this. It’s the most thanks I have received since I started this trip.

I hate that we’ve only just been able to get coordinated with each other, that I was learning some kind of routine (to help you), and now that some potentially good friendships have just also been ripped away.

I know I sound like a whingy kid and pointing the finger. Maybe I am. But the wheels are in motion for me to get my own life back. To get away from yours- but now, you will get a fresh person that does not know any of your signs, quirks or basic routine. Ideally I would have made you have to start from scratch with a new person…Again -Which would be even more frustrating for you. Instead, I have made a detailed profile.. to help YOU and whoever fills my shoes to not have such a rocky start and a better chance of succeeding.

So perhaps I still do care… lucky because you’ll still be seeing my face in the morning.

Sucks to be you.

Posted by KylieClark 14:40 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

ENA

Flip the page

overcast 9 °C
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Ahhh in blissful heaven right now. Queen sized bed, white fluffy towels and no bells in sight. That’s right. My choose your own adventure book has FINALLY flipped over to the next chapter.

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I actually walked in the door, dropped my pack on the floor and star-fished the bed with a smile on my face. lol

The following day I went to the movies and had a hot chocolate with marshmallows. :)

Posted by KylieClark 04:31 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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