Snow & Serendipity in old London town


The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: “a fortunate stroke of serendipity”.

Firstly I must start this post by apologising to those of you I have fallen out of touch with recently you know who you are. I know I have been full of promises as to returning emails and the like and have genuinely just been well…distracted.

I finally saw my first snow – real snow, not just the sleet we mistook for snow weeks earlier. It was forecast one Sunday morning and we didn’t expect an awful lot as we had a very small snowfall about two weeks beforehand which I somehow managed to miss entirely one morning. The weather forecast said 8:30am – how they can predict it down to the  hour is beyond me but at 8:15 there was no sign of snow so myself and my roommate Roxanne shrugged it off and I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and as I was brushing my teeth I looked out the window and saw one solitary snowflake followed by another and another and another. As I was walking to the station the snow started falling properly all around me, the locals were rolling their eyes and going ‘God here we go again’ but I was in my element, it was really magical and totally worth the wait. I remember arriving in the production office in Soho and looking out from the window of our office with the view of the London eye and watching the beautiful snow falling down so very softly and thinking to myself ‘Oh my goodness I’m really here…’ it was a wonderful moment. I tried to take photo’s but it seemed that no photography could truly capture that moment. The streets of London looked almost unrecognisable with a thick layer of snow covering them. Our street Chillerton road seemed so quiet and eerily calm blanketed in the white stuff, transport came to a standstill – children would run into the streets at random and pelt snowballs at passers-by and myself and my housemates embarked on a journey to the local park to build a giant snowman and get caught up in the romance of it all. My favorite part is the feel of the snow not long after it has fallen. It has this light squeaky sound when you stomp through it with your boots almost like walking through squeaky sand but not quite. It is so much fluffier than I imagined and less cold, it only seems to get icy after it has had time to settle, in which case you need to be so careful when walking over it as it gets very slippery.

Since my last post so much has happened I am struggling to know where to begin. Sadly Winter Wonderland finished up for the year – funnily enough right before the snow actually decided to make an appearance. NYE marked the rapid entry of my new special friend who I will name Mr G…. no, no that’s too obvious let’s just call him Mr Smart (That was a Simpsons reference –  funnily enough Simpsons referencing has cropped up by this new friendship with Mr Glen Michael Smart…. oh whoops!)

I was coming home from my first ever shift at Winter Wonderland – sitting on the train exhausted I didn’t manage to get up from my seat when the train stopped at Kennington (where I was supposed to change as the train terminates) out of nowhere – literally I heard a friendly voice say ‘You need to change here…’ awoken from my zombie-like daze I muttered something along the lines of ‘Thanks I’m so exhausted I was completely zoned out’ I walked to the platform and my mysterious helper enquired as to my Australian accent – he realised we were both Australian, not completely uncommon in London but a talking point nonetheless I politely answered him but was still quite tired so didn’t make much of an effort to extend the conversation until he sat down in front of me and lo and behold he was wearing a Winter Wonderland pass around his neck so I started talking to him again. I was able to deduce that he was working on one of the rides and lived in the same area as me, we chatted the entire journey home before he asked me for my number as we parted ways, I thought nothing of it at the time. Lonely still in this strange new city I happily gave it to him thinking I would never hear from him again. I was wrong though and a few weeks later we both found ourselves working NYE so planned to savour what was left of our evening and go out after work. He took me to a great pub in Clapham and as we sat drinking our spirits mixed inside coke bottles outside ala rebellious teenagers at a school disco and as we chatted I realised we actually shared a lot in common. We had a great night talking to some toothless drunk regular at the bar, slow dancing to Eternal flame and making friends with a bunch of English drunks who bought us a shot even though we were quite heavily inebriated by this point. As we counted down the new year I was starting to think to myself perhaps 2013 might be different for me. The night ended abruptly however with me vomiting in his toilet while he held my hair. Ever the gentleman he put me to bed and after vomiting again in the bucket beside the bed I assumed I would probably never hear from this guy again and was so embarrassed I shrunk out quietly the next morning as he slept.

But again I was wrong – he offered to take me out in Camden a few weeks later and we had alot of fun again at a cool live music venue/ art gallery called PROUD in Camden.

The next thing I knew my newfound friend has announced that he was deciding whether or not to return to Melbourne (much to my dismay) as I had finally found someone over here I could be completely myself around. So when he mentioned he wanted to go to Edinburgh for a few days to clear his head and invited me along I just dropped everything and went. By this time I had well and truly finished Winter Wonderland but by a stroke of luck what was supposed to be one weeks worth of freelance production work ended up turning into a huge job that took weeks which couldn’t have come at a better time as I was still helplessly waiting for my paycheck from Winter Wonderland. It was the freedom/cash in hand nature of this new job that allowed me to pick up and leave with him at such short notice. So there we were – hiring a little car to drive up to Edinburgh for a few days. Part of me wondered whether it was a good idea or not – but I just told that part of my head to shut the fuck up, and I’m glad I did. Without having a proper GPS it took us three hours just to get out of London and although we had some pretty tense moments we shrugged it off and were soon on our way to Edinburgh. Chatting constantly about anything and everything openly and honestly like old friends. We arrived in Edinburgh late that night and headed straight for the castle so I could show him the great views from up there. The next day we took in a walking tour and ended up booking a pub crawl which allowed us free pub crawl entry over Australia day as well which was a bonus. We made friends with an Aussie guy Hamish and decided to hike up Arthur’s seat (or is it chair? I keep confusing it) with Hamish – which was all fun and games going up but coming down –  what with the snow build up was absolute murder considering I was wearing my cheapo Woolworths uggboots and as nightfall approached it quickly became a Bear Grylls type hike down as I slid on my arse three times which I acknowledge would’ve been hilarious to watch and is pretty funny looking back but I was hung over and I hurt my backbone quite badly. But Glen came to my rescue time and again, in what turned out to be a rather stressful descent down the mountain.

Only two weeks later I was on the road again on a Wicked van tour of the UK with all my housemates as we had planned the trip about a month before determined to get out of London for the week. We made a huge playlist of songs, bought a whole lot of snacks and planned to camp in the middle of winter around the UK crazy – ahh yes…. but Glen surprisingly took up my invitation to come along which made it even better. Stopping at Stonehenge, Bath and Cardiff (due to ridiculous weather conditions and poor planning on our part – (basically we tried pitching a tent in Gale force winds and hail in the middle of a caravan park in Cardiff) we ended up doing a runner that night and parking our van in the middle of a suburban street  then all cramming into the camper van for the night, Glen and I slept sitting upright in the front.

Then it was off to the town in Wales with the really long name, I can’t remember the exact spelling but it’s a town in north Wales famous for the length of the name alone where on the second night we were welcomed with open arms. Larry went into the pub to use the toilet and to find out where the nearest caravan park was and was invited by the pub owner to park our van and pitch our tent on their back lawn for free that night. We drank at the pub and ate smore’s inside the van over the camp stove in our onesies it was a great moment on our trip. Glen and I pitched our tent in the beer garden so were literally just a few feet from the pub..

The following night we were in Liverpool – Glen and I booked a hostel and we parked the van with the rest of the gang outside for the night and snuck them up into the hostel to have showers, we drank Edinburgh castle whiskey that Glen bought on our last trip with coke and visited the Cavern club that night famous for being one of the first places the Beatles ever performed.We sung along at the top of our lungs to the guy up on stage performing before ending up in a trashy club down the road where we danced the night away.

Next stop was the beautiful lakes district where  the other’s went for a horse ride, we pitched a tent in a deserted caravan park and spent a good portion of the night trying to light a campfire that was never meant to be, before eating sausages in near darkness as that fire just wasn’t going to be able to cook them. Even when we ventured into town to purchase firelighters and kindle the fire refused to light.

The following morning we were headed for our old haunt Edinburgh where we visited the J K Rowling cafe, Mary King’s Close and took in a Comedy night in the new town. The Following afternoon we headed for York for our last night, much to my dismay it was nowhere near as wonderful as I had remembered, it was still nice but I had romanticized the place after having such a good time when we stopped there two years ago when I was on Contiki with Heather and Kathleen. We drove around looking for the shambles and ended up having random Aussies who were living in York come up to our van chatting to us. We ended up inviting them in to help us find parking and with directions because we were lost but they were so trashed they were no help whatsoever – one even left her entire handbag with passport in our van which wasn’t discovered until the following night when we were back in London, luckily for her we are honest people and have since posted it back.

Since we got back from the trip I’ve been for interviews at Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures and have literally today just started working in the Merlin Entertainments call centre as an agent where I will be answering enquiries and taking phone bookings for all of the Merlin Attractions – Thorpe Park, Chessington, LEGOLAND, Madame Tussauds, London Eye, SEALIFE, London dungeons etc Today was pretty scary none of us have had much training so far and we were answering real calls this afternoon. I will never forget my first call, I gave the wrong information! But hopefully it will get easier, especially after this weekend when we receive formal training on more of the attractions so we can answer questions quickly without umming and ahhing like an idiot. So that’s it in a nutshell. I am still putting the finishing touches on the second draft of the sitcom script after receiving feedback, and I am trying to focus on budgeting my money until I get paid which will be a long time so my money woes aren’t completely over but I’m doing a lot better. I’m going to start doing the email rounds again soon to all the production companies as I’m not happy to do call centre work fulltime, it’s nothing to do with the job it’s just not what I came here to do. It will be  a stopgap until I can get a fulltime production job – fingers crossed.

I’ve now been at the Merlin call centre for almost two weeks and am starting to settle in and am gaining more and more confidence with taking calls by the day. It’s been a real challenge, not only the job itself but trying to develop a routine. I was top seller in the centre yesterday which was great as I am still new and don’t really consider myself much of a salesperson so was such a great boost.

My new friend Glen about two weeks ago confirmed that he would in fact be going back to Melbourne due to financial commitments, I was half expecting this but that didn’t stop me from crying into his shirt for half an hour after he told me. You see in the 3 or 4 months that I have known him we have become very close and he has become my rock over here – he’s been one of my closest friends I’ve made here, he has not only made me laugh uncontrollably, but has looked after me when I’ve felt low. Ran away from London on spontaneous adventures with me, given me creative guidance and encouragement and basically has been an awesome person to be around. Which is amazing considering not too long ago he was just a stranger I met on a train, it feels like a lifetime ago – I feel incredibly blessed to have met him and really lucky to have been in the right place at the right time that night. I believe now more than ever that everything happens for a reason and hope that my presence in his journey over here has helped him grow as much as it’s helped me.

That fateful night in November last year was the first time I have ever experienced what I believe to be real serendipity before, in that everything lined up perfectly for us to meet ‘by chance’ For instance as it was my first shift at Winter Wonderland  I was put in one of the quiet token booths in the park for training which meant that I left much later than I had ever done the entire time working there – as my till was collected last at the end of the shift. And Glen stepped in mud on the way out of work that night and went to a different tube station then what he would normally as there was a tap nearby so he could wash his shoes – he got on the same train as me in the same carriage but at totally different stops, and if I wasn’t so tired from my first shift I probably would’ve stood up at Kennington to change trains (as I knew I had to change normally but wasn’t thinking at the time) which would mean that he wouldn’t have spoken to me so therefore wouldn’t have heard my accent.  And if he hadn’t been given a Winter Wonderland tag that day I probably wouldn’t have kept talking to him on the train that evening and so on and so forth. It makes me smile whenever I think back on that night and all the little variables that worked perfectly in unison to bring about our meeting. As I really don’t believe we would’ve crossed paths otherwise as we worked in totally different areas of the park in different departments.

London truly is a magical place and I wholeheartedly believe that almost anything is possible here.

As the sun is starting to show its face (finally) and the days are slowly getting longer, I am gradually seeing a totally different city start to blossom. As the shadows of winter start to slowly fade away and the seasons begin to change, excitement and anticipation  is starting to fill the air and the promise of a new chapter of my time here is looming over the horizon.

I said goodbye to Glen yesterday after spending a lot of time with him over the last couple of weeks, I am very sad and will miss him a lot but am hoping to keep in touch. I am trying to keep positive, I have already been fortunate so far in that I haven’t had to crawl back to the hotels job (knock on wood) I am keeping my chin up, and enjoying being the only Aussie at work amongst the poms. They enjoy the novelty of having me there, and I am happy to entertain them by spouting ridiculous Aussie stereotypes just to make them smile.

Until next time – As I say over the phone all the time in the call centre, ‘Bare with me while I pop you on hold a moment…’

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