Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Hi Guys!!

I'm back, well it's been a long month and a bit, but a lot sure has happened in that time. There was the end of my job in Paris, a European adventure and 3 job interviews. But now I have a little time to update everyone. I was thinking I'm going to have to change the name of my blog now that I'm back in Australia, but "Taking on the Aussies" doesn't really have the same ring to it. Maybe I can try and throw in a few insults towards the Europeans every now and again to justify the name.

The job interviews were a bit of fun, that was the first time I've been interviewed for a job since I was a checkout-chick at Woolies and Big W. Lets just say the process was a little different this time round. I'm not overly confident I will get the job, in fact not very confident at all, as the last interviewer didn't seem particularly enthusiastic as to my application. I get the feeling they had already made the decision and it wasn't me, oh well I'll just have to try again somewhere else. I did get to do the freaky psychometric testing though, which apparently a lot of big companies use to weed out the crazies and the liars.

They test your numerical, verbal and abstract reasoning as well as a massive personality questionnaire. I even got the added bonus of a salesman questionnaire. I think really though, the reasoning tests are really testing your ability to go out and by a book on this stuff and study up. The maths is not difficult, percentages anyone, it is more the fact that there is quite a short time limit placed. It was strange doing these tests though as every time I've done an exam you have a fairly good idea as to how you went, you did all the questions you could, you know where you were unsure and where you couldn't do anything. But because these were quite easy it all really came down to how well you read the question, and it is quite possible to walk out thinking you had done great when in actual fact you had barely passed as you had read everything wrong. I get to read my report in a week or so though, so I'm looking forward to that.

The personality questionnaire was also really boring, I was at least hoping for some interesting questions like "Do you ever feel like screaming when in a quiet place?" or "When standing on the top of a tall cliff do you ever feel like throwing yourself off?". Those would have been fun to answer. Instead there were a total of about 15 questions and these were asked about 200 times in various guises. And they were all like "Are you ambitious?", "Are you confident?", "Do you look towards the future?", Boooring! So I just answered honestly and moved on, it was funny seeing the rest of the group, all straight out of uni, and you could see them pondering over each question, thinking "which one would they most like me to pick?".

But I think the salesman questionnaire had to take the cake, it was all about whether you could ever be in sales, and your views on salespeople. There were these questions like "Would you sell a product to your grandparents even if you didn't believe the product was very good", that kind of thing, so that was pretty easy to answer, but I don't think they are ever going to get me to sell stuff, thank god! I was filling it out thinking, what sort of job have I applied for?

But enough about that, I can give you another taste of summer in Europe, even though I am now in winter in Australia, as I went on one last trip to England before the European adventure.

I visited Hever castle whilst I was over there (the first photo), this was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, but after she married Henry VIII and subsequently died, it passed into his hands and he gave it to another one of his wives, Anne of Cleves, after he divorced her. It was later (very much later) bought by the Astor family (of the hotel fame) and they actually used it as a residence, so there are the renovated parts where the rooms have modern wallpaper and beds and then the original parts which have been restored. It is now owned by the Broadland Properties group (how romantic) who use it as a conference centre, though the castle is still open to the public. They also have on display here a rare portrait of Catherine Howard, and thus have portraits of all 6 of King Henry VIII's wives, which is not a very common thing to have in a single collection.

Though the underground art-historian rumour about this painting is that Hever castle probably paid a lot more for it than what it is actually worth because a well-known BBC art-historian guy (Starkey) did this big piece on this lost Catherine Howard portrait just a few weeks before it re-appeared and was bought by Hever. So the rumour is (I think) that Starkey knew who had the portrait and wanted to push the price up for them (knowing that Hever would want to complete their collection) and so did the TV piece on it. Ohhh, these underhanded dealings in the art-historian world, how juicy!.

Anyway on to some pictures, it really was a lovely place, with fantastic grounds, complete with a massive lake (second photo), Italian gardens (to display the Astor's Italian sculptures), a yew maze, a water maze (not particularly impressive, or difficult and is the photo to the left), topiary and flowers all over the place. I think the most impressive thing about it though was that it really did look and feel like a proper castle, with the proper battlements and moat and everything. And the gardens were just what you expect it England, lovely and green, manicured and lots of flowers.

Unfortunately you weren't able to take photos inside the castle, but what do you expect from a group called Broadland Properties. They did have one other impressive thing, apart from the complete portrait collection of King Henry VIII's wives and that was a personal lock of King Henry VIII. When he would go travelling around the country, and he did spend some time at Hever castle before Anne lost her head, he would take his own locks with him. These would be placed on the doors and that way he could be sure of security, as only his personal locksmith had the keys to them, so I guess he only had to keep that guy happy, rather than the whole country.

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