Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Are a fab band.... I dont listen to them THAT often, but every now and again its the only band that I can listen to, and I never get sick of them. They have great lyrics, and I find I can relate to alot of them, in my own way (obviously not always the same as 2 pommy brothers who drink and fight :P).

but Oasis.... are a band to be remembered.

Half the World Away
a song that I relate to in many many ways! I love this song...

Champagne Supernova
beautiful, cool...

short but sweet

a classic good mood song!

another one you cant help singing along to and feeling a bit rock n roll!

seriously, sometimes only Oasis will do....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Students - the new matchmakers?

It appears that my year 10 students are intent on setting me up with another teacher... As I mentioned in another post, a couple of students have a home ec assignment where they have to design and execute a 3 course meal and serve it to a teacher. Well 3 of them have chosen me, but I seem to be getting more than just a free feed. The students are dead set on setting me up with a teacher at school, and they're using the lunch they're cooking for me, to invite him too, to set up a romantic lunch... They're (apparently) getting rose petals to sprinkle over and around the table, and all sorts of other romantic mood setters. Thing is, I'm not too sure exactly why me, or why him? I guess were both single and young? Im laughing about it, but discouraging it at the same time, its a little weird. And I cant talk to this teacher without a couple of students coming up and making comments, calling me Mrs XXXX and generally poking fun. But this teacher is encouraging it, saying he cant wait to spend more time with me and hes looking forward to our lunch - which gets ALL the year 10s going! I had them coming up to me today during a class to talk to me about it, the girls were alot more sensible about it but I think they're just caught up in the romance of it all... I think they'd love to see something happen, and they'd love to be credited with setting 2 young single teachers up!

I do have a bit of a soft spot for my year 10s though.. I got warned about them, how they're a pain in the arse, disengaged, really hard work, really low literacy levels and just a struggle to teach... and in some ways I agree but on the other hand these guys have loads of personality and they just need the space to be themselves. This class arent really the studious type, they DO struggle a bit with literacy but they seem to respond well to discussions, talking about everything rather than writing, and not being treated like they're a pain, which I know is how some teachers treat them. These guys dont respond at all to an dictatorship in the classroom. They're 2,5 terms away from finishing school and going into apprenticeships and they have the mentality that school is almost done for them, they're in charge of their lives and school is an almost ended chapter. So getting them to sit down and study genetics quietly is an improbability... I've bribed them with chocolate, I've let them plug an ipod into the classroom speakers and listen to music int he last 10mins of class if they've worked well... and I get something out of them, they try to get some concepts, and they give me the time of day. I laugh with them, I dont take myself too seriously, and I let them much around a bit, as long as they pull themselves together after a few minutes and get back on task... I've also mentioned to them that I know and understand that for their immediate futures, it may be easy for them to think that topics in science are totally irrelevant. I let them know that understanding science is understanding the world they live in, and their own bodies and how they work, but I get it, that for them, at the moment, its not the most important information. I dont expect them to be science geniuses, although I certainly believe that they're capable of more than what they think... and I've told them that when a future employer wants to see their reports, which they likely will if they want an apprenticeship, that they're not going to be looking primarily at their grades or their academic achievements. Its the comments from the teachers they're going to focus on - how does the student work, do they have a good attitude, how do they interact with their peers? and thats what I'm focussed on as well. I want them to have a go, believe in themselves and have enough self respect to participate in class and not be afraid to fail - they shouldn't be afraid to try and grasp a concept and not understand it. If they dont understand it, its not the end of the world, but if they do understand it, great! They've proven to themselves that they've done something they didn't think they could do, which is only a good thing!! The fantastic thing is, that most of my year 10 class are really beginning to understand this. I think. Theyre 14/15 years old, they're going to have off days of course, but they seem to respond well to me, so far, and Im really happy with that.

They respond so well they're apparently taking charge of my love life....hmmm... we'll see how monday goes!

Damn cookies...

honestly. cookies ellude me. for some reason I cant get them crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. i just get crumbly all the way through, which ends in a mess when I eat them...

just made some rolled oat cookies that I nabbed from a forum ( which came highly regarded. Now I did make one mistake, instead of adding the sugar to the melted butter to dissolve, I added it to the dry mix, which I think affected it a bit... they still taste nice... but its not the texture I was after at all.

But baking has always elluded me... I never seem to get the desired result. cept with the guiness cake! that was a big success!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Staff morning tea

Tomorrow I'm one of the staff members who's turn it is to bring it something for the fortnightly morning tea... a pretty safe bet is sausage rolls so thats what I've gone for! I think its pretty hard for home made sausage rolls to be anything less than delicious! It just depends on what you mix in with the meat to make them stand out...

The sausage meat itself was already great - it smelled really good, but so far, all the meat I've gotten from Drovers Market in Wanneroo (Corner of Wanneroo and Burns Beach rds) has been pretty awesome. If you're looking for a recipe though, I dont really use amounts or anything with sausage rolls, it just depends what I have in the house... This time I used 2 tsp of some gourmet mustard made with Newcastle Brown Ale which I bought off the net from, a chopped spring onion, a squirt of HP sauce, S&P, an egg, and 1 tsp of minced garlic. I squished it all together with my hands (its really hard to do it any other way...) and then wrapped it in puff pastry and put them in the oven at 200 celcius, and took them out when they looked, and smelled ready! They were golden brown and puffy, and of course, I had sample one! Deeeeelicious! I think the mustard gives it a really nice tang, and the fact that its made with a dark ale gives it a bit of an edge - its good stuff! I normally add tomato or barbeque sauce but this time I added HP sauce and I think that will be an inclusion Ill stick to - really nice and not quite as sweet as the others, its nice n smokey instead...

I had some puff pastry and a couple of spoonfuls of sausage meat left, so I decided to make some pinwheels as well. I just spread some passata on the pastry and then spread the meat in the middle from one side to the other, then layered it with grated cheddar cheese and chopped spring onions, with a generous sprinkling of S&P. Rolled it up, cut em up into approx 1,5cm lengths and in the oven they went! The smell was pretty awesome, and watching the pastry puff up was a slow, satisfying entertainment. It was also quite cold so being by the oven was a good place to be!

Again, they needed to be tested, of course, quality control ;) they're pretty yummy! All the goodness in the sausage meat went into the pinwheels, even though there wasnt much meat in it, its pretty flavoursome and so these little mouthfuls are very moreish! With about 5 other people bringing something in, it should be a nice little feast!

And speaking of feasts, the year 10 home ec students have an assignment where they have to plan and execute a 3 course meal, and their "customer" has to be a teacher. So 3 of my kids that I have in science came barging in one lesson asking if they could cook for me! So on monday I get to go to "cafe 10" which is their little cafe they'll set up, and have a 3 course italian lunch cooked by my year 10s! Being nice to your students certainly pays off! Well... Ill decide that once I've tasted the food!

Quick edit: sausage rolls went down a treat - though loads of other people bought them too! But mine were the only homemade ones and one of the teachers sought me out to tell me they were delicious! woohoo!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Pictures of the kids when Aunty Jax came to visit - there are more pics of one girl than the other, simply cos the younger one doesnt like photos that much, and the older one LOVES them and is usually very animated lol

Told that we have to go home from the beach... uh oh...

Music I can't get sick of...

even though I try my hardest to play these songs to death! You cannot be anything but happy listening to these tunes...

Kings of Leon - Taper Jean Girl

The Kinks - You really got me (the video is gold!)

Kasabian - Fast Fuse

The Wombats - Lets dance to joy division

Steppenwolf - Magic carpet ride

The Subways - Oh yeah

ACDC - If you want blood (Bon Scott - pure rock n roll)

The Black Keys - Countdown

Ash Grunwald - Breakout

I could go on... But Im tired and if I listen to such cool music any longer ill wake up and wanna party!

those greeks had it right...

Its funny how sometimes even though you know of a classic food combination, you dont necessarily eat it, or really know how it tastes, you just know its a classic/common/popular combination. I'm a creature of habit and while I can tell you the classic combinations for many foods, I dont necessarily eat them very often, because I tend to eat the same things pretty often - purely because, again, Im a creature of habit, I buy the same stuff at the supermarket all the time, because I dont plan to go to the shops. I live almost an hour from where I go shopping, and so its often a case of "Oh well Im going to the city today anyway, ill do my shopping". And off I go and do my shopping without planning at all... I really should plan more but I spend so much time at school, planning lessons etc that I dont really feel like planning 5 or 6 meals as well! Even though Id enjoy it! Anyway Im getting off topic...

I just discovered for myself, the deliciousness of greek yoghurt and honey... dear lord, this yoghurt is good! Ive been getting into eating yoghurt every morning with my oats (with extra frothed milk from my coffee, crushed frozen raspberries and a splash of apple and cinnamon juice) and the yoghurt Id bought was just plan old natural yoghurt from Brownes, which is decent enough! But today I went to buy some more and all they had the local shop was the greek kind, so i just bought that... after a delicious dinner of roast beetroot, sweet potato, carrot, boiled potato with butter, S&P, and a grilled chicken breast, I felt like something fruity - so I decided to get into the persimmons that Id bought from the market the other day. Might as well chuck on some yoghurt, and since Id bought some local natural honey - why not drizzle some of that on too? Anyway, enough about my thought process, to the important stuff, it is SO delicious! The greek yoghurt is so much creamier, and milkier than the other stuff, and while its still quite sharp, the aftertaste is smooth and, well, again, creamy! I was really suprised at how lovely it was... and it was sweetened so nicely by the honey, which isnt too overpowering, as Ive found some store bought stuff.

Ive tried persimmons before, but I think it was toward the end of the season and they were a bit too soft and tooooo sweet. But they had a little container with some pieces cut up, and I tried one and it was really nice, sweet but not too sweet. Its hard to describe the flavour, especially now since Ive smothered it in yoghurt! But the combination of the 3 is just divine... Im really blown away by it! Ive always favoured simple food, where the product speaks for itself, the best ingredients cooked simply - so you can actually TASTE the vegetables/fruit/meat etc... and so todays discovery of an in season fruit served with creamy greek natural yoghurt and a drizzle of local, natural honey, is right up my street! Add some chopped almonds, dried cranberries and white chocolate buttons (aptly named "Celebration Mix") and you have a delicious breakfast or dessert... Yum Yum YUM!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

graduate teaching...

is hard. Not only do you have to plan and create everything for the first time, youre left alone in the classroom with no feedback from anyone. I do like being alone in the classroom and not being watched all the time, but it would bereally awesome to get some feedback for what im doing right/wrong. Ive recieved compliments from staff a few times, the deputy really likes what Im doing with the students, its nice to see the kids getting hands on experience and getting outside, and another teacher, who is sort of my HOD (unofficially - its how I see her anyway- btw HOD = head of dept for those playing at home) just said that she didnt know if anyone had told me, but I was doing a great job and have adapted really well to the school and to teaching a subject I was barely trained in... nice to hear, but some constructive advice would be nice too. Im pretty much alone teaching science - there is one other teacher who teaches one other science class, aside from that Im pretty much on my own to decide what the students learn. I have a lab tech who knows more than me, who, when i ask her to prepare experiements for me, brings out a load of stuff i didnt ask for and doesnt tell me how to use it. she brings out all the equipment I need but also a bunch of stuff I dont need. it makes me feel a bit stupid that I dont know what its all for. Im meant to be her superior, Im meant to know everything, and I dont.

As a graduate teacher Im finding one of the biggest things that Im struggling with is long term organisation. Im finding that I can have my classes organised but not further than a week, and Im realising what I need to teach as I go along... I cant say that by this time, the students should know this, this and this, and they should be able to tell me about this. Because at the moment Im learning it all myself. Im a PE major and Im teaching science, and most of the things I have to teach at the moment, I havent learned since high school myself. So its hard to see a terms worth of content and how to deliver it. Im just wading through the waters trying to make sense of it all and going lesson by lesson, week by week. I can feel it getting somewhat easier, I do see the light at the end of the tunnel and I think with experience I am going to get alot better at it, and once I know everything I need to know things will get so much easier. But at the moment its hard not to feel a little guilty that the kids Im teaching arent getting the as good a science education as theyre meant to...

Will have to just keep plugging away, and do the best I can while I learn how Im actually supposed to be doing this! Fake it till you make it!


Fave pics of around the place...

All the following photos were taking at Stirling Range National Park by me, on the way to Albany one day... its a really stunning place, if you get the chance, have a drive through!

These pics were taken by me in Albany, at The Gap, a stunning place in any season!

All the following photos were taken by me, at my parents place one summer while working

Our rusty old doorbell - still works!

Who's responsible?

It seems to me like, in alot of aspects of life, people are unable to take responsibility for themselves or their actions. Things get blamed on someone else all the time, when in actuality it was your fault. Nothing in particular has happened to me personally to provoke a blog like this, but I was reminded of an incident at school the other day when talking to a friend today. A girl in primary school had, for whatever reason, bought alcohol to school, and given it to another student in the high school. This girl then took it down to the back of school, and then into the girls toilets, and boozed it up at recess, and by lunchtime, was throwing up. She was taken into the office, sat on a beanbag in front of the reception ladies (she wasn't allowed into sickbay because she was so sick she had to be constantly supervised, and the receptionists didnt have time to just sit in sick bay and watch her...) until her mother came and picked her up. Now, on the phone already, the mother had asked if her daughter was really that sick that she couldnt take the bus home after school? Thats some concern right there. When she got there, she ripped her daughter out of the arms of another teacher who was trying to help her walk out the door, and yelled at all available staff about the state her daughter was in, and wheres the duty of care? When leaving, she told everyone within earshot that we would be hearing from her lawyer... This was a really unexpected reaction for me. Other staff weren't surprised because they knew the mother and they were telling me that if I knew this girls mother then I shouldnt be TOO surprised with her actions... When the mother was told that she had been drinking in the girls toilets, and the teacher on duty was male and cannot be expected to check the activities of all the girls going into the toilets, made up some other argument about the schools duty of care to the students. I really have to wonder about the duty of care that this mother is responsible for? I would have thought that before you're concerned with whether or not your child is actually ABLE to get drunk at school, that you might want to educate your child in the fine art of not getting pissed at school. Other students mentioned to me "Who on earth is stupid enough to get drunk at school!?". I agreed, but for this student, there was something going on in her thought process where she either had some delusional idea that she wasnt going to get caught, or that she just didnt care. But the mother was so quick to point the finger and lay the blame on others, for her daughters seemingly obvious mistake. This isnt the first time this has happened, that parents lay the blame on schools or others for their childrens mistakes. It seems that, from a school point of view, that parents are relying more and more on schools to teach their children EVERYTHING, not just academic, but everything from the students knowing right from wrong, morals and values, self respect... I think that as the students spend so much time at school we ARE responsible for a certain amount of education that is not all academic, but morals, values and right and wrong, are the domain of the family, in my opinion... alot of the time its absolutely not the childs fault, as every individual is the product of its environment, and some kids have a really crappy environment to deal with at home. What chance do they have when they get sent to school under the pretense that these strangers, these teachers they barely know, are going to be bringing them up in a sense? Teaching them right from wrong? Who are these teachers trying to tell them that their actions are totally inappropriate, you arent my mother!

Why is a situation like this, only the schools fault, in the eyes of the mother? How is she not able to take responsibility for the action of her 14 year old daughter? Of course the student needs to take responsibility as well, but for the mother to blame only the school seems completely unreasonable to me... and I see it all the time. People are just unable to take responsibility anymore! With the increased prevalence of mobile phones, you dont even have to be on time anymore, because you can call who youre meeting 5 or 10mins before youre meant to meet them and let them know youre going to be late... nevermind that your friend is on their way already and wasnt going to be late, now they have to wait around, because it seems to be instilled in us now, that we dont HAVE to be on time, because we have the ability to let the person know we'll be late no matter where they are. How did we manage 10 years ago when not everyone had a phone? Shock horror, you had to be on time.

Electronic communication is partially to blame for alot of things I think... not so much for the boozy school girl, but for peoples actions, when they felt they couldnt talk to the person involved. There are so many instances of things that happen between people, when asked why, such as cheating, lying etc people have some far fetched excuse to justify their actions. When you hear these excuses its so clear that so many peoples problems could be solved or avoided by talking to each other! But do we anymore? does anyone really spend much time talking? people text rather than call, they use IM programs such as MSN, AIM, skype or facebook chat... they email, or inbox people... its become normal for people to be able to say something to someone via text, email etc but not to their faces. But we still havent lost all sense of decency, there are things that some people realise cannot be talked about over text, but because we've lost the ability to communicate with people face to face things that need to be said, dont get said... it leads to peope doing stupid or careless things which end up damaging a relationship between partners, friends, family... and then come to far fetched excuses behind their actions...

Like I said before, nothing has happened to me directly to prompt such a post, just the things happening around me, the girl at school and her mother, a friends boyfriend cheating on her a number of times with lame excuses... I really have to wonder whats happened to honesty and taking responsibility for yourself and your actions, as well as your children, if you have them...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Aupair Chronicle 2

Aupair. Some people see the word and wonder which fancy french word has invaded our already mongrel mixed breed language. Others see a temporary occupation that flocks of australian girls fresh out of university take up as a means to an end in London, on their rite of passage, as its become, the working holiday. The girl who becomes part of the family, helping out around the house, dancing with flowers in their hair, with well behaved children who adore you, in the garden. A common misconception, let me tell you. My name is Jacqui, and I've been an aupair for 9 months.

Since I went on exchange to Germany in 2002 with Rotary for a year, I knew that one day I'd come back to Europe for a working holiday, where I'd have freedom to travel and do whatever I liked, unlike an exchange, where the organisation is responsible for you and your actions, and they dont let you out of their sight. I got a taste of Europe in that year. A Eurotour on a bus full of other exchange students, sharing fleeting experiences in cities, for no more than a day or two, like Japanese tourists. Minus the peace signs. Running around as much of Europe as possible with mum, for the 2 weeks I was allowed to take off school. But I could never go where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go. This is one reason for the decision to definately come back on my own for a working holiday. The other reason, being the other main reason for spontaneous overseas travel. A boy. A Dutch boy to be more specific. Yes he was tall, tanned and had a gorgeous accent. So Im off to the Netherlands.

But what to do there? I'm limited by the fact that I don't speak Dutch. After thinking for about five minutes, I decide that I'm going to be an aupair. It's a sweet deal! You get a place to live, rent free. You get fed, no bills. No expenses aside from your own pub crawl and shopping spree needs. All you need to do is look after kids, how hard can it be? Right now, I can hear the mothers reading this, laughing at me. How hard can it be? Well at the time I imagined uber disciplined Von Trapp children, scampering into line at the sound of the Captains whistle. Without the pine cones on the seats, or frogs in the dress pockets. The Sound of Music has alot to answer for, in regards to the expectations of nannies to be. The children will not run to your bedroom in a thunderstorm. Nor will they sing with you. And I'm pretty sure they won't wear the clothes you fashioned for them from your curtains. And if the mother finds out that youve chopped up her curtains, you're likely to get fired. As a the host mother of a friend of mine said to her "These curtains are worth more than your life.". I kid you not. Chances are, they're from a mega rich family, and your clothes, not theirs are the subject of the looks up and down, a hidden grimace, and a forced smile. Excuse me whats wrong with my trakkie dacks and leavers jumper? This is the kind of family that I ended up at. In the rich and famous area of Het Gooi, the Desperate Housewives cluster of small towns 30 minutes from Amsterdam. The town I lived in, Blaricum, has a population of about 10 000 people, and an average house price of E700 000. One look at the size of the garden of my future home, and I knew I was in one of the houses that bumps up the average. Tennis court, swimming pool, room for a pony. Well, it had none of those things, but Hyacinth is on the right track. Theres certainly room for a combination of the three. They made the sacrifice though, and decided to make room for the Range Rover Sport, the Mini Cooper and Porsche Carrera. And space for the 2 Labrador dogs and 3 children to run around. Im not sure who needed the leashes more. Uh, I really was a good aupair, I never actually put a leash on the children. Tempted, but it never happened.

My aim in becoming an aupair was to use the job as a means to an end, a base for European travel. And to get to know this dashing young dutch man a little better! Obviously, I thought it was going to be fun playing with kids all the time, doing educational things, teaching them the ways of the world... But the expectations I had didnt quite match those of my host family. I knew that I was meant to do the washing and ironing. What I didnt realise, what exactly how much a family of five goes through in a week! And the rate at which it needs to be done! A minimum of an hour ironing every day, barr weekends. I stop ironing every day at 12, because I will not sit there all day and iron. And on holidays or days when the kids arent at school, ironing is to be done before the kids are dealt with. Unless im making their breakfast. Ironing is the number one task of my job. Im sure that my dissappointment is shared by all. No one likes ironing. Im the number one fan of NOT ironing. Anything. If i was shopping and I found the most gorgeous item of clothing, that needed to be ironed all the time, chances are, I didnt buy it. I didnt even know if the iron we had at home worked. Did we even have one? I know Mum bought me some of that spray which "irons" your clothes... After a week the mother decided to get the fathers business shirts done at the drycleaners. Thats how good i was. What a confidence boost in the first week of my year of being a maid. I mean aupair...

Aupair Chronicle...

Imported again..... want to be an aupair? think again...

Alot of people ask me what the difference is between an aupair and a nanny. Its pretty simple, a nanny is only responsible for the children, no household chores, and they get paid more. An aupair, aside from the washing, ironing, dog walking, picking up of children from friends, school, hockey, gym, dancing, more ironing, making beds (childrens and parents), cleaning bedrooms (childrens and parents), dealing with vomit and various forms of excrement... you actually have to look after the children for hours on end as well. We also get paid less than a nanny. So why on earth would anyone be an aupair rather than a nanny? Because you need experience and qualifications to be a nanny. Any random off the street can be an aupair. Its often so that any old random off the street IS an aupair. Do you know who your aupair actually is? I have met an incredibly diverse range of people who have decided to become an aupair. Metalheads with peirced faces who are so high on magic mushrooms theyre too scared to go near the moshpit at a concert, cropped bleached lesbians with tattoos, almost alcoholic college students and art types who smoke pot in the morning before taking the kids to school. Alot of aupairs find their families through websites without going through an agency, which means alot of the time the family will only see a few pictures of the girl, talk on the phone a few times and exchange emails. Thats all I had to do... and I was locked in for a year to look after some peoples kids Id only seen one picture of. So what happens if the girl takes out her 2 lip, 2 eyebrow and nose peircing for the photo, hides her dreadlocks and momentarily hides her bottle of valium for the picture? True story. You really dont know, alot of the time, exactly who it is that youre entrusting your children to. I've met girls with severe depression, eating disorders, drug problems, binge drinking... who think that coming to another country to work will help them escape their problems. The sad thing is, most of the people who can afford aupairs around here are rich, and have rich, snotty kids. The parents often have some kind of addiction problems, even if its only shopping or coffee. But if you have problems at home and think coming to europe to look after a set of snobs will help you, think again! It'll send you into a relapse, I promise you. In the case of those with clear heads coming over, this experience will very possibly surge you into the depths of lone drinking or smoking. When I say smoking I dont mean cigarettes. Were in the Netherlands here.

But the children are only really half of your worries. The parents are the other half. Alot of parents have very particular ideas of how theyd like their children to be raised, as most parents do. However a normal parent is most likely going to be the one to enforce the boundaries and rules, not a stranger from another country who, 70% of the time, cant speak the language of the children they're meant to be looking after. The parents usually have schedules, rules, timetables, which they print in spreadsheet format. Which they hand over to you, and then leave for work, with a couple of wide eyed children standing, staring before you. In my case, I had no schedule, and the mother didnt work. So in place of having a just the military regime to follow, I had a military commander who would make sure I was doing everything right. Unless of course she was out having her manicure, pedicure, facial, getting her hair done, shopping or having coffee with friends, which she did often. She also prescheduled her visits for about 9:30 in the morning so I would have to take the children to school instead of her having to do it, to just add another job to my list. The things that she picked me up on, that I was doing wrong, was quite extensive. After Id ironed things, I wasnt folding clothes the right way. The towels were also not being folded correctly. One girl had a coffee cup thrown at her for letting the kids open all the jars of peanut butter. When its pouring with rain, and the aupair needs to pick up the kids from a playdate, would you let them take the car? Theres insurance to think of, is she a good driver? Sometimes if you dont want your aupair to drive its not totally unreasonable. But what if youre home? Would you make the aupair bike in the rain to get your children? The answer is, 9 times out of 10, yes, the aupair goes. Who on earth ARE these people that we aupairs entrust our life changing, fun year away to? So many aupairs get treated really badly, because for some reason, some families seem to think that its a priveledge for us to be in their family looking after their children. They think theyre doing us a favour. Yes its very generous that they allow us into their home for a year, but theyre paying us to perform a service. You would think the parents would be happy to have someone to look after their children, grateful to have dinner cooked when they get home, and the washing and ironing taken care of! Throwing a coffee cup across the room doesnt covey these feelings of gratitude at all. Getting the dinner you made for the family thrown in the bin, because Mum felt like a bacon and egg sandwhich, also doesnt convey any gratitude.

The thing is, were actually robots. We have no feelings, no need for a social life or adult conversation. We dont need to be appreciated, or thanked. After we've performed our daily tasks, and finally getting the chance to go out and meet our other robot friends, we dont mind that our host mothers get mad at us and have words because I didnt ask to go out. I wasnt aware that a 23 year old woman needed permission to leave the house. Does being an aupair actually mean that youre under house arrest? Why doesnt anyone tell us this before we go?!

This robot demands an explanation!!


This is another imported blog... about my beloved Amsterdam...

I just love it here. if i can get a job here and not leave id be happy!! im going to miss walking around and seeing beautiful buildings, canals, 1000s of bikes, coffeeshops, hookers, art shops, fluffy clogs, and sex shops... at first i thought amsterdam was a bit overrated, but thats because i was hanging around in the wrong places. as a tourist or a person who doesnt know a city well, its easy to hang out in the touristy places, but amsterdam tourist areas suck because theres nothing dutch about them. the damrak is the worst place in the world in my opinion, shop after shop selling the same shit, its no better than the street stalls by pisa, they just have a better setup. walk along the canals in the jordaan or just a few streets away from the leidseplein and you find independant shops, art galleries with no more than 10 paintings on the walls, bakeries selling pastries and cakes and other delicious looking things that WILL make you fat, and cheese shops which arent marketed at tourists... home decoration shops which are more than just the sleek chic black white and red streamlined designs you find in other places, theyre full of colour and flowers different shapes and designs... the availability of such a huge range of ideas in every facet of your life, clothing, furniture, home decoration, bike decorations allows you to be whoever you wanna be... the mainstream chunk of people tend to follow the "norm" but there is the opportunity to be whatever you want to be, you can walk down the streets of amsterdam and not really get any looks, unless youre wearing or doing something exceptionally outrageous! I love the shopping here... Ive decided that if you have a little bit of money, you can have a GREAT life here. things can be expensive, but if you have the money, you can really never get sick of it here!

Ive just discovered the Nieuwmarkt, which is so nice at night with the "in de waag" cafe (which looks like some kinda little castle) lit up in the middle of the square. the nieuwmarkt area seems to be a little chinatown, the signs are in dutch and chinese, and there are loads of shops and restaurants from just about any country in asia! they have a big oriental supermarket and lots of little ones scattered around. on the actual square, they have tapas bars, bruincafes, regular restaurants and bars, and theyre not that expensive.. i went there wit a friend last night and we had a cheese fondue and a drink for €10. I went to another tapas bar with another friend and we had 4 tapas to share between us and a drink for about €13... then took home a bottle of wine from the AH for €2,10!

I live in Badhoevedorp which is about 12km from central station in amsterdam, and it takes the same amount of time to bike in there as it does on the bus. and its not a hard ride either, its all flat... i love how bike friendly it is here, im going to miss that when i go home. its free and its exercise.. everything is so much closer here so its more often a viable option than in perth, but still, i wish that things were more bike friendly for aussies! you dont have to wait for the bus, you can leave when youre ready! i love biking here :)

I love it how part of the dutch culure seems to be a desire to be comfortable. if its gezellig then youre happy! bruin cafes are dimly lit, with dark couches, dark wood and homely meals, cheap beers and are a totally gezellig place to hang out!

Im totally in love with amsterdam and am happy im still here and have been given the opportunity to see it in another light to how i used to see it...

London and the Aussie Sheep syndrome

This is a blog Im bringing over from my old myspace account... At the time i was living in London (only for 5 weeks though) working as a nanny, and this is my account of the impression the place left on me... by the way please excuse the lack of punctuation and spelling mistakes, when I used to blog it was when I really had something to say and let my mind fly onto the screen and not worried about editing it...

Its hard to write about london, because its so big and every area is so different, but ill try! one thing that i can tell you, which comes as no surprise, is that its really expensive! just to travel into london from where I live and come home again costs me about £10 which sucks alot, since im really trying to spend as little as i can. Its hard not to spend money here, and i really try not to! just getting around costs money, i feel like even though i havent bought anything or done anything ive still spent more than i wanted to. but thats just this city for ya!

ive been to a few areas, i went with fran to brick lane which is a (apparently) bangladeshi area, and is well known for a massive array of curry houses to choose from, that are also pretty cheap. we had a curry which was pretty decent and walked around checking out pretty awesome (but expensive!) vintage shops. i found it pretty punky and alternative, with that grmy cool feeling, but fran felt like it was a bit put on.. i dont know, see it for yourself and decide!

i walked around tower hill (but didnt go in, for £16,50 i can get alot on portugal or croatia), in the city, the cathedral, trafalgar square and westminster (both of which i will never set foot in again - too many ppl, tourists and overpriced everything). Its definately a great place for history, there are always things to do and see... i went past a malaysia week festival, where they had music and art, ppl selling sate sticks, and bamboo fans and coconut drinks served in hollowed out coconuts... its an incredibly diverse city, with so much to do. but as i said before, its rarely cheap!

when i first got here i stayed with 2 friends in east acton. when i mention where i was staying alot of ppl pulled a face cos apparently its a bit dodgy... it didnt, and still doesnt, seem any more or less dodgy than where my ex lived in amsterdam and that got faces pulled as well! it was strange to first get there because it felt like being at home... driving on the other side of the road, everyone speaking english... i went to the supermarket and saw the same brands, the same kinds of foods - heinz baked beans, pies... and i immediately felt like being here wasnt challenging enough. i heard aussies in the supermarket, things were familiar and not hard to work out...i felt like id made the right choice in not going to live and work in london for the long term. it was just too easy. i had friends here and it seems like alot of ppl who are in london hang around with pretty much only aussies, maybe a kiwi or sth african scattered in there, and when hearing everyone talk about their holidays, everyone goes to the same places, with the same tour companies, to be surrounded my aussies. i wonder sometimes what everyone gets out of their experience when living and working in london? it seems like everyone does get to travel alot and thats great, i think travelling makes you a much more rounded person, but it seems like they just take alot of holidays, theyre not travelling. and if you dont understand the difference then i guess youre one of the holidayers ;) i dont really have a huge problem with that, its all personal preference, some ppl have full on jobs and the last thing they feel like doing when they get home is to organise a holiday in a country where half the websites are in another language etc. i can understand that. but i think alot of ppl arent getting the most out of their time away from australia...

why do ppl leave australia, to live in london and be surrounded by aussies? its such a multicultural city here, but it seems like alot of ppl who come here from abroad hang out with their own. but when i was living in amsterdam my circle of friends was so broad, an aussie, a sth african, americans, swedish, german, austrian, norwegian.. i used to hang out with a chick from peru... there were alt of indonesians in my first job in laren/blaricum, and it makes life alot more interesting. if i wanted to hang out with aussies i would have stayed at home. and ive since found out that alot of aussies are sheep. it seems like a big move to come and live overseas for a year or 2 and leave everything behind, but since coming to london for these 5 weeks ive seen its NOT a big move really...its surely different here, but its not THAT different. we come over here and go to aussie bars with aussie friends, go on aussie tours with other aussies. pamplona, sail greece/croatia, oktoberfest... those are all cool things to see and to experience but yeah, sometimes i think ppl go just to go, cos half their mates are going... but this is all coming from someone who goes everywhere alone, because no one ever wants to go where i go, or can take time off or whatever. and alot of the time i just see a cheap flight and book it without consulting anyone. mainly beacuse i know what most of the ppl i know, are like. i cant really count on them to come with me, ive been bailed on ALOT so now i just book stuff, if someone wants to come then awesome, if not, i have no problem being on my own.

it sounds like im bagging out all the aussies that come here... and on one side i am. on the other side i understand why ppl come here, you can earn a fair bit, you already have friends here and its an easy start for ppl who have never lived overseas before. I had the luxury of going on exchange and so that was my introduction to living abroad and it was very hard sometimes, esp since i went to germany and spoke not a lick of german. but i came out of that a much stronger and experienced person. i wonder how much stronger and experienced ppl are who come with the masses of aussies? i guess it depends on how you are before you come... some ppl are real homebodies and to leave their comfort zone is a big thing. courage has nothing to do with the things you do, its the reason you do it. if you do something that scares you, then youre brave. going to live in london for me personally isnt brave at all, its very safe and easy. however for some others to go that far away from family and friends is a big step. but over the years i think ive figured out that my comfort zone is being out of my comfort zone.

i think london is def a place ppl need to see, and its a huge and expensive place... i think to really get to know it, you need to be here a while.. i havent seen ALOT and ive been here 5 weeks. you can earn alot, its a good base to travel from cos of the number of airports and budget airlines (which is in a steep decline atm). the only thing that i dont really love about it is the amount of aussies living here as sheep. funny thing is, im friends with alot of them! and dont really hold anything against them for it, its just the masses im not a big fan of.

another thing thats worth mentioning is the drug scene. coke is big here, cos its so cheap. ive been to 3 house parties and the mirrors racked up with lines of coke have been in the bathroom, on the living room table, or on the bedside table like a buffet. ppl give out pills like theyre offering around a bag of chips. funny thing is the pills here are so weak that ppl need to take 5 or 6 to get a similar effect of the ones in australia, so im told. and theyre not expensive either. some ppl are so into it that they get a blood nose from the coke, and its apparently their body telling them to "harden up". but then i sit there drinking booze all night killing my liver and brain cells (which dont grow back mind you) so who am i to judge?

MUSIC DISCOVERY! Seasick steve

What a discovery! I was watching Jools Holland tonight, and on screen came 2 old guys with a 2x4 plank of wood with a wire nailed to it, and a drum set. It was Seasick Steve (who got his name because, you guessed it, hes no sailor), and he was AMAZING! With a 3 string guitar, a homemade slide instrument and a box under his feet as drums... Look him up and be blown away! Back in the day he was friends with the likes of Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell and Kurt Cobain... Hes from California and was born in 1941.

When someone asks me next time for my ultimate dinner guests, I think Steven Wold is going to be one of them! Just imagine the stories this guy would have! Hes lived in Norway, busking in the Metro, hes been a recording producer for bands like Modest Mouse as well as making his own records... imagine sitting in the corner of a bar with a never-ending bowl of peanuts and freely flowing beer, and imagine the things this guy could tell you. Imagine a jam session with a guy who can make the most rock n roll music with a 3 string guitar and a bit a of wire nailed to some wood??


where the wind blows me...

I've always been a bit of a gypsy, ever since I first when on a student exchange when I was 17, to Germany. Once i discovered there was a whole world out there that I had yet to discover, I was hooked. Life was never the same, if every day didnt hold some form of challenge. Where the wind blows me tends to be my answer when people ask me what my plans are for the next 12 months - "I dont know what Im going to do, Ill end up wherever the wind blows me". Most people who know me, know this will be my answer. I decide for certain once every few months where im going to move to, what Im going to go and how Im going to get there... Opportunities come and go, and if one I like pops up, I pack up and take it.

Thats how I ended up in a small country town an hour north of the capital. Also how I ended up on an island 30mins by ferry off the coast of WA. But that only accounts for the last 7 months or so... Friends often ring me to ask what Im doing on the weekend, or if I want to do something that night, but my answer half the time is that I cant, because Im in Kalgoorlie, or Lancelin, or Margaret River, or somewhere thats NOT home. However I find alot of the time, its really hard to find people to go with me on roadtrips. People are really hesitant to do anything that involves them being too far away from their house, to bail whenever they want to. This is one reason why Im moving around all the time... I find that Im constantly looking to see and do new things, whereas alot of other people around my age are bogged down with life. Their job, garden, new house, renovating said house, kids, dogs, watching their boyfriend play cricket/football/rugby/chess... Which is fine, its probably really nice to be satisfied with staying within a 30km radius of your home, and have everything that interests you within that area. But I just cant do it... So thats the reason for the name of my blog, and ill be writing about whatever takes my fancy. Which is usually music, food, cooking, or work...

I work in a district high school, which means the students can only complete up to year 10, when they are aged 15. There are some students who are able to complete their upper school education, but the quality of education is lower than other schools who offer classes up to year 12, and cost to the school is high. The school catchment area is massive, spanning to the coast, 80km away, including isolated towns and farms where students come from a range of socio-economic and domestic situations. We have rich kids with huge properties and old money, kids coming from culturally desolate "estates" in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but houses, blocks of land and a supermarket. There are students with junkies as parents, students who cant live with their parents because one is in jail and the other one is deemed unfit to parent any of their 7 children, some children come to school on their own, mum and dad passed out on the couch, practically raising their siblings on their own. Some students travel an hour each way to get to school, and arrive tired, hungry and disengaged because their day has started with an hour of starting out the window of the bus half asleep. We have some kids from other countries, mostly south east asian, who are sitting in my classes with electronic translators, because they simply do not understand what is going on, and they have no teaching aide. Some kids come to school, and are a joy to teach, they ask intelligent questions, participate constructively and do their best to learn and enjoy themselves. Other students come to school because its better than being at home, some students get so drunk at recess time, by the lunch break they're vomiting in the toilets, wishing they hadn't taken that rum from the yr 6 kid who didnt really know what they were doing... I have an up and down school, full of good, bad and indifferent kids. But they're kids all the same, they say and do funny things, and life as a high school teacher always yields entertaining stories, which Im sure you're going to hear about!