Post 21: Pack Your Bag, Buy the Ticket And Go On an Adventure! 101 to go!

Kat doodles about life:

For the last few years going back home for holidays does no longer mean holiday I can enjoy just relaxing. It sort of turns into a marathon of meetings with friends and family members, who want to catch up. Obviously it is great, because we always have so much to talk about, but there is not much else for me to do there apart from staying at home and going to the pub. It is only a small town, literally nicknamed as: the little town, where time stopped.” I may be gone for a year or two, but the same people sit in the same pubs doing the same things in their lives, so when you arrive, they just think you have been lifting the pints three pubs down the road. However the conversation can be picked up like you spoke to each yesterday.

Last year it happened by accident I went home twice in one month and one of the occasions I spend most of week travelling around the country with someone else showing them the natural beauties and sightseeings I have not actually seen myself before. I suddenly felt alive again. I escaped the every day life and that is probably why I left home in the first place and have not come back since for longer than just few weeks. I love escaping and discovering places. I am even known to go on holiday on my own. First time I left home, I got blamed for running away from the reality. Maybe I did, but at that time I just wanted to learn about new places and life abroad.

The same exciting way as discovering my own country I remember feeling the first time I saw the sea. I was about ten years old. We arrived to Catalonia after 24 hour on the coach and the sky was covered in dark clouds with sun shining through, but it all felt too calm and cold as it was getting dark. Another time I remember navigating my dad in the car on our road/work trip to Denmark and eating smoked salmon for the first time ever. I promised myself not to eat it again. (She writes now happily putting salmon on the plate any time possible.) I went and  jumped every morning into freezing cold sea and I am not even going to mention that we were fed by vegetarians for two weeks. That was a shock to the system ( although I did enjoy it!)

For some reason now thinking about all the different places I have ever been to, rather than buildings I would always remember the people and the weather of a certain moment. The smell of the air and the experience I had. Walking miles through the suburbs of Porto getting to the beach on a hot but windy day admiring the tiles houses are famously decorated with. Fresh spring sunny days of Sofia, when the trees get decorated with ‘Martenica’ ribbons or cloudy afternoon, when I first learned snowboarding. It is all about the little things like eating Stroop waffles on Scheveningen beach, sitting on a bridge in Dutch Leiden drinking wine swinging legs whilst boats are going underneath or sitting in a all sorts of places watching theatre shows in a languages you do not really understand to. I still remember the morning I arrived to London and watched squirrels in Hyde Park, the same way I first landed in Bristol with confidence and naivity saying to myself: ‘So here I am!’ into crisp and fresh January afternoon.

You can give me ten minutes and I am ready with a packed bag and passport ready to go. When I have a friend, who says there is a spare bed or come and join my adventure, if money and time are not an issue, I always grab the offer. Like this I could experience the Parisian life, East of Slovakia or coast of France more than just like a tourist… And more I am sure there more adventures to come. So here it is I am getting that travel bug once again, time to pack the bags me thinks. Stay tuned. Love Kat xx

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Post 12: Where Has the Week Gone? 110 to go!

Kat doodles about life:

Hello everyone, I know I am few days late with posting, so I hope you can forgive me. I was hoping to enjoy my four days off, but instead I ended up running around doing way too many things as usual. Last night’s realization that it is Thursday already did not make me happy bunny thinking to myself where has the week gone?

So what I have been up to in the last few days? Since working full on last weekend I needed to catch up with my blog post number ten and the fact it was end of the month gave me perfect opportunity to review how I am doing with all the resolutions. It is really nice to see that I am progressing, no matter how little the steps are. Of course I know I can push myself lot harder, so the blog is perfect way of doing so and I am glad I am still going.

In the past few weeks design turned into a bit of a side line and my language jobs seem to be picking up lot more. I spent one evening going through list of vegetables and mushrooms, which I am sure have been mentioned already. Then on Thursday we kept working through the list with my student.  The second half of the lesson was dedicated to a quiz. I transcribed a recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese into simple list of ingredients and commands of how to make it. It got printed and cut into small pieces. I need to get him to start speaking more, so I told him once he solves the quiz, in next lesson he will be teaching me how to cook the dish. As you can guess, he was (not) amused and started to giggle fearing what will happen. I am sure he will be fine. Personally I prefer this practical way of learning the most as it makes the brain associate the words with certain actions or situations better. I reckon he was not happy with me either when we both went to the shop afterwards and I made him go and ask the member of staff where to find suet. Something we have talked about in the lesson and its use in British cuisine. Practice makes it perfect! 🙂

In one of the places I go to work they run a book club, where you can purchase books for discounted prices. Since teaching privately and not being very big fan of grammar myself I ended up flicking through a book Help Your Kids with Spelling and Grammar written by Carol Vorderman. I was very pleasantly surprised, not only by the price, but also by the way the book is written. I found it lot more user-friendly and certainly very different to all the actual language books we used to learn from at school back home. I understand they have to be different due to nature of the user , but certainly the grammar part looks lot more clearer. I only knew Carol from Loose Women until while ago I watched a program about her. I found out she also co-presented Countdown  in the past and has great knowledge of Maths. Plus she lives in Bristol, which means she is cool already!  Anyway jokes aside, I will see how I get on with book during the lessons and I guess even myself. As they say ‘ you learn something new every day’.

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On Wednesday I went to Gloucester to work as an interpreter, so there is not much I can tell you about apart from the fact I spent the day on buses, trains and nearly getting blown off by the wind. I had to dress smart so instead of my usual bike jacket with a hoodie I had to opt for a brolly. It was classic Charlie Chaplin comedy sketch. I know why I do not bother with umbrellas in this country. Some of my friends suggested to go and see the Docks and the Cathedral, where Harry Potter was filmed, but the assignment went on for hours, so when I got out I was not in a very cheery mood and it became so dark, I decided to return straight back home. Feeling optimistic on the day I took my driving theory book with me to see if I can do a bit of studying during the train journey, but I also decided to take the latest issues of World of Interiors and Elle Decoration, which arrived in  the post. After the day out and about there was a clear winner and I spent the journey looking at pretty images of furniture and fabrics. Who can blame me, right?

Have a lovely weekend! Back soon. Kat xx

Day 92: Challenge accomplished!!! 0 days to go!

Kat doodles about life:

I have done it! I got to the end of the tunnel of 92 days to the lights of 2014!!! What a journey and by saying that meaning still on a journey, but with so much more exciting stuff ahead, who knows what happens?! Before I do all do thanking, let me sum up this rather eventful year and as You can see on my PF 2014 card I have included some of those moments.

So this year I:

  • celebrated 9 years of living abroad and in the UK alone, you can read more about it in Day 20. I know- way too long and I only planned three months…
  • got more design and decorating working for private clients, and discovered some delicious cupcakes on the way.
  • went back to theatre design and scenic painting, when working on a show based on Nick Cave’s songs.
  • realized how much I enjoy teaching and motivating others, so I did some lecturing and workshops of all sorts.
  • moved a house, which was big chapter of my life,  and created myself a big studio space in a new one with wall ready to be painted on.
  • was blatantly reminded of my fears stopping my career, so I finally started learning how to drive. Yes, what a drama queen… it is not actually as bad as I thought!
  • went home to The Czech republic after year and half, enjoyed it way too much and looked for going back home to the UK again.
  • started a challenge to be productive for 92 days in row and succeeded. As right now you are reading the last post!
  • lost the man, who I thought shared my soul, but nevermind I wish him all the best and I am ready to meet new friends again.
  • am very proud of my little French sunshine, who never seem to stop to surprise me and who was accepted into Sorbonne, although I now miss her dearly.
  • finished the second course of Designing for Interiors and ever since I am thinking how to make it happen for real.
  • …  and there is so much more, but not enough of virtual space…

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My lovely readers, all of You who read my doodles on regular basis, all of You who read them sometimes, and You who are here for the first time, I THANK YOU ALL!!! I Thank You for Your support coming from the ones I know, who are reading, the ones who I think are reading, but do not want to admit it and the ones who read, but I do not know. I appreciate all the likes, comments and shares during this journey. You have been my silent whip getting  me up and making me do things. In 2013 I had some pretty sad times, good times and some really amazing times and met lot of great people. And of course as You know me, there is always something exciting happening in a life of Kat. So whoever was part of the journey, I am lifting my cup of currently full of honey, lemon and camomile tea and I say: Na Zdravi and have a great New Year 2014!

See You all in 3 Days time with my new challenge full of dreams and resolutions, take care and all the best! With Love Kat xx

Day 86: Merry Christmas n.2- in true British style! 6 days to go!

Kat doodles about life:

Katerina, Katerina! I can hear that judgemental tone in your voice whilst you are shaking your head after I will tell you about my Day 86, with Day 87 closely following with hangover. Oh yes, it was a blast! And how wonderful one. I do not think I had so much fun during Christmas Day like this before. Obviously I have many Christmas experiences behind, both in Czech and in the UK, but this year I will be thinking of it with a smile on my face. To make sure of it, I have informed and banned my friend from playing any Michael McDonald love songs, in case we go to his house for an afterparty as he made me once listen to them for hour and half just after I broke up with my boyfriend. That is what you call friendship and voluntary pain.

So this Christmas Day I was very kindly invited to a private dinner at the Brunel Bar in Clifton by Matt, who is a great chef there and who was in charge of fantastic feast of parma ham and melon as a starter, main course of turkey, beef, celeriac mash, sprouts, roasted potatoes and there was so much more else I do not even remember. Dessert of course fantastic Christmas pudding with Cornish clotted cream and Ice cream. Cheese board followed and I was in food heaven. Not to mention the wine was flowing and we were getting very merry dancing around the empty bar. It did not take long before all eleven of us were getting along and shared the jokes. All the guest were so wonderful and we have talked about all the topics from traveling, Royals,Communism, life, jobs and what is the secret of long-term marriage as five of the guests were in their retirement age.

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I have kindly offered help with setting up the tables and doing the waitressing as it is one of those things that once you worked in catering, your instinct is telling you instantly to pick three plates in one hand and another two in the other, stand up straight and get it to the table intact. I was fairly impressed I could so even wearing my heels and little black dress, which was not exactly ideal for cycling, when getting there. It is the shortest dress I own and good job there were not many cars on the road as I had to rush for 40 minutes with my bottom showing a bit too much to my liking. I had certainly heated discussion with one of my classmates about it in the past, where he thought I was being judgemental when I said it is typical for Saturday night here, but not back home as we simply cover up. And I still stand strongly behind my opinion. And ever since working in the club I can tell lot more.

We have moved on from Brunel to Fringe Bar owned by three wonderful French ladies and the fun continued. By that time I could have probably done with another dinner, even I have completely cleared all plates to Matt’s appreciation, I was so happy and in my usual hugging mood, all my friends were making sure we are having a great laugh. Wine intake has reached the limit, so I texted my ex boyfriend. I know! So wrong! But we have all been there… I wanted to speak to him, to have that cuddle and familiarity, but it was not meant to be. It is just that feeling that you still care about the other person and you miss having them in your life even you both know there is no future together. I do not go out very often and I am not used to drink this much, but hey it happens. Thankfully it was not long before I was taken home by my friends, but that is a story for another post. Back later Kat xx

Day 44: Carny production! 48 days to go!

Kat doodles about life and gets arty:

So, where do I start with this? Last night I went to see the opening night of Carny, production I have been working on for the last two weeks, painting the set. It was rather experience, because it was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning. I also realized I shared that bottle of red (Muriel Rioja,2008), which I was given by my housemates as a present and we had rather merry few hours, when I got back. When I was telling my friend, that I am not sure what to expect and that it will be rather interesting, I was quite right. I have not seen any of the rehearsals, so I could only imagine from hearing snippets, when painting at the back of the theatre.

The show was a devised piece and most of the script were ideas of the students, so you could tell it pretty much became actors showcases. Music of Nick Cave was the link holding it together and taking us through the world of circus and prison. Obviously you could not help noticing it is a school play, but there were some really good points, which with little more practice could really push the piece or these perhaps future actors to be to another level.

Firstly I enjoyed the interaction with the audience. Within first few minutes we were asked to get up few times and clap, and as the show went on, you could never be sure when is someone going to run up to you picking you up as a volunteer. Good job we sat little more further away from the middle walk away as some of the actors were taking the roles pretty seriously. Another thing, which I really enjoyed was the physical movement and choreography. As the show was just over two and half hours long to keep the strong face, remember all the movement and choreography including the actual very strong physical acting was very admiring. Scenes such as the prison with one with electric chair was very moving as they all gathered so closely and as one item were pretending to be electrocuted.

Within the circus showcases were few hidden gems. I particularly enjoyed the the satiric comments and confidence of flying in black bird lady. Her wit was so clear, she also got a great final applause. The other admiring acts were the gymnasts, particular when jumping up and flying over six laying down volunteers, singing angel and black ghost elegantly walking around the stage magically  appearing  giving another dimension to the performance of others.

There were times during the show I had no idea what is going on, but I could  not help myself being excited when is the next shocking moment going to happen. You could probably compare it to Marmite, you either loved it or hated it. And strangely I have to say I enjoyed it. It must have been the randomness and the whole thing including the outside tent full of dead body parts, bunch of workers running through the foyer during the interval and the smoke and lighting effects giving the show another three-dimensional feel. And obviously the set tying it all together. Since the technician, who made it and I painted it, I guess I cannot really comment without being impartial. However I really enjoyed the crispness of prison sign once lit and those three doors disappearing right at the back. The excess length of the tarpaulin tent sheets were used as decoration for the middle entrance and together with carnival sign appearing lights it just all worked together. It was rather good evening out watching something rather unusual.

The image below is the scene, when were we walking into the auditorium. Actors were all they statically waiting.

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Day 20: A place you call home. Crossing the 9 years mark! 72 days to go!

Kat doodles about life:

Today is a fairly special day. Not that something exciting would happen event wise, but it is more anniversary kind of day.  I already crossed that nine years mark of being abroad in June, but today it is more significant because it is in the UK alone. I came over in order to be an au pair. An advert on a job site showing beautiful images of countryside around Church Stretton and Shropshire was good enough reason for me to go and say yes after I spent four months in Netherlands doing exactly the same job. I had three to six months in my head and then wanting to move on to au pairing in France and Scandinavia. But that never happened and nine years later I am still living in the UK, still with the desire of living in France and traveling the world.

I still remember that sunny autumn afternoon, when my grandmother accompanied me to the bus station in Prague after three weeks of holiday back home after the Dutch trip. I soon realized the food supplies may not be enough for the whole journey, so I had to act very savvy and make it last until the next morning as I had inadequate amount of foreign money for stops in other countries on the way.  We arrived at London Victoria Coach Station at 5:30 am the next day and I had to wait until about  4 pm for the next bus to take me to Shrewsbury. I had £20 in my pocket, which back in Czech  Republic at that time was equivalent of enormous amount of money, I believe you could say around 60 beers. (Just remember that was 2004!) It was unbelievable! I was suddenly in the country I was only taught about at school and picked out randomly as my A level topic in Geography and English language. What a coincidence!  All the talk about Queen’s guard, English breakfast, pigeons, black cabs, fog, driving on the left became very real. I felt perhaps even too real as I was walking out of the bus station with my big 3 stone heavy backpack, small back pack in front of me and an art portfolio in my hand, when suddenly massive double-decker bus nearly hit me as I was going to cross the pedestrian. Right I have to start keep looking right first, not left! Oh my gosh! Wake up! Thinking to myself! Feeling very excited I ended up walking into Hyde Park to sit down for a bit and look at the London map I just bought, so I can see what The City has to offer before I have to catch the next bus. I sat on the bench in a foggy, turning sunny, morning Hyde Park watching pigeons and texting those exact things  to my friends back home of what I could see, smell and feel at that right moment. It was simply just way too surreal.  You would never think such a situation can stuck in your mind for so long. I remember it like it was yesterday. Later on in the day my hunger was getting worse, so I decided to buy a sandwich, but opted for a baguette of cheese and tomato, because I felt I am getting more value for money. How wrong was I! For half of baguette they charged me £4.50! I was horrified as a tourist wrongly comparing prices and what it could get me back home. For some reason apart from cafes and sandwich shops I did not notice any supermarket, so I guess buying it from a cafe next to Parliament and Big Ben, explains it all. Oh silly me.

People often ask me if I like this country?! Well of course I like it! Otherwise I would not be still living here nine years later! I have created my life here, working on my career, I made it work for me, I worked hard, people gave me opportunities, I got myself through two educational institutions and many other courses, and I met some really wonderful and dear friends along the way. Quiet honestly I consider myself British. In a patriotic sort of way. Obviously I am still Czech as my passport says and I did not resent my home country in one way, but I made sure I made it work and felt homely here. I joined and blended within the society and certainly expressed my feelings in case someone was trying to accuse me of stealing jobs, benefits, not speaking English or putting me into the same group with Polish people. I paid tax for all these years, picked up all the colloquial language and even a British boyfriend along the way. I fall in love with English breakfast (minus the baked beans) and Christmas minces, forcing my Czech friends and family to try during Christmas visits including the famous pudding and brandy sauce. I fall in love with the weather and all year round temperature, which allows you to wear pretty much the same clothes just with an addition of few extra tops when required. Obviously that had some impact of me not getting it quite right when trying to go out on a night out back home in minus twenty Celsius and foot high snow in high heels and little black dress and not much else. That particular lesson was quickly learnt. I fall in love with British politeness and everyone wishing each other lovely day, banks, post offices and shops being open during the late evenings and weekends including making all the required information needed online or over the phone comparing to the byrocratic system back home.

I just simply fall in love with this country and that is why I am still here. And I know that even some people I know back home judge me for calling Britain home, it is not that I would hate my native country, I still call home ‘home’ too, I just feel very happy here and I call every place or country around the world home, when feeling the same way. Plus entertaining my friends when speaking Czech with Welsh or Bristolian accent is priceless and I really do not mind being known as the English girl. And for those, who judge, I have developed simple way to shut them up: ‘Take your passport, book the ticket, pack the bag and do it yourself! Then we talk! ‘ They soon realize you cannot compare the amount of money you earn here to being lonely on your birthday, during Christmas or when simply things are just not great and you cannot pop over to your local pub to have a chat with your mate. I do not know how long I plan to be here. I may have to return next month or simply never. I am enjoying living like the character from Happy Go Lucky, so I guess I leave it until my inner soul says that’s enough!

Thank you reading and Thank you for being part of my 9 years (and longer) experience. With love Kat xx

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Day 8: Costume scrapbook, part two! 84 days to go!

Kat doodles and recommends:

So today’ post is a bit late. I did the actual creative part on Tuesday as I was suppose to, just run out of time to post about as I went out for the evening. If you live in Bristol, there is always something going on and although my weekends are dedicated to work and during the week I prefer to meet up with friends for a quiet drink rather then standing somewhere loud doing  whatever you feel comfortable with under the expression “night out”. I went to a gig of the band Lanterns on the Lake in Rise, record shop, which is also known as Friska cafe  at the Clifton Triangle. They had a problem with the sound at the beginning, but it got fixed, but just I as I was just getting into enjoying it, they stopped. It only lasted half an hour, but it was worth it. It is very dreamy sounding music, very instrumental, mellow and lovely to hear. The lead singer is certainly very talented, she has that little girl’s voice, not quite sure how you call it, and although she was shy at the beginning, by the end she was cracking jokes about alarms. Personally I think it was freezer or fridge telling the owners of the cafe, the temperatures are getting higher then they should be. Who knows what it was…  Anyway if you fancy listening to Lanterns on the Lake in full on gig, they are playing next Thursday in Thekla or simply checkout their web or Youtube.

So on the day of me supporting someone else’s creativity, this is what I have done… There were still few more images to be glued in into my costume crapbook, so I have taken five more photographs, so you can get more inspiration what to put in.

Tomorrow I will be catching up with a blog post, which should have been posted tonight, but it will be all about challenges and feedback  people have given me. Stay tuned, with love Kat xxx

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