13 October 2014

Why all the boxes??

Moving. All those boxes, the packing, the lifting, the not knowing which box you put that item in (unless you're organised and you accurately label the boxes), the leaving of the known into the unknown.

I moved, on Saturday, to my new home. One where I hope to be a long time. This new home comes with a couple  of flatmates, one English girl, C, who I have been getting to know over the past couple of days and one who, on Sunday morning was so excited to see a new person in the house, she peed on the carpet, sending me into a fit of laughter and C into mortification. I'm talking about a dog of course. A 6 month old jack russell  pup. She is such a cutie!
Last week was manic, between working late, trying to organize the move and getting eye-strain (all day and night in front of a screen, at work, at home, on my mobile, will do that apparently), left me no time for blogging.

I still need to unpack properly, my stuff is in boxes on the floor, and buy a few things. But, I hope that as I settle in to my new home, to catch up. I've so much to tell you! And I can't wait to get stuck into reading all my fav blogs again. Virtual hug people!

What have you been up to lately? Do you have a packing/unpacking ritual?
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04 October 2014

Saying hi to Brussels

Arriving in Brussels barely a few hours ago, I couldn't resist a quick nip out to Grote Market after checking in, just to say hi to the city. So far this is what Ive seen.

  • The Grote Market square was filled with groups of friends sitting in circles, enjoying a drink and a chat.
  • Up one side of the square all the Greek restaurants were doing a roaring trade with lots of people sitting outside, having a bite,  a puff on an argeela or talking.
  • One guy flew past me with a police officer racing after him, and two more police racing after them!
  • Another guy in a fancy suit looked like he was in a brawl was being hauled off under arrest by two police officers near the theatre.
Talk about excitement!

I'm off to bed so I can get ready for tomorrow and what surely will become a day of eating my way through Brussels ;)

Good night & have a great weekend.

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29 September 2014

Cost of first month in London

One question I get asked a lot is, how much does London cost when you first arrive? Its hard to give a straight answer because everyone is different. Some people have family or friends they can stay with, some people are travelling with a friend or partner, some are on their own. Some people have healthy budgets, some are on shoestring budgets. So I've decided to, let you know my own experience and help you out with a simple calculator.

Personally, I saved up a lot to make sure that I had enough to cover me for the first 3 months. I looked at spending about £30-£40 per night at a nice hostel, sharing a dorm with 4 to 8 people max. I was in a hostel for 6 weeks. Most of my money was kept for initial rental deposit (about 1 month or 6 weeks) plus first months rent. I was in a flat share, so this ended up being about £1,500 in 2012. To get an idea of how much a flat share is in areas you would like to live, have a look at Spareroom.com . The UKBA currently asks you to have at least £1,890 in savings when you apply for the Youth Mobility Visa (working holiday visa) - im really not sure what this is based on though.

So, the calculator, this will give you a budget based on 4, 8 or 12 weeks. Simply fill in what you expect to pay for accommodation or want for a weekly spend. Ive put in a rough average in the first line but you can delete and fill in your own. Please bear in mind that this is just a ball park estimate and that you should not rely only on this calculator, or any other calculator for that matter, for financial advice - please do your own research. Having said that, I do hope you find it useful. Do let me know what you think!

Rough average based on:
  • Hostel at £30 per night - this is based on a a shared dorm. Hostel prices can fluctuate between nights, and during the summer months.
  • Oyster card - used on buses, tube, tram, trains between zone 1 & 2 which are most central to London If you are staying further out, prices are here
  • Sim only, prepay freedom freebie from Vodafone (comes with 150 minutes, unlimited local text and 500MB) £20 gets you more so it depends on your use
  • Weekly spend at just under £15 a day (this can be difficult if you don't have cooking facilities)

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26 September 2014

Friday Favs #2

I cant believe another week has flown by!

How has your week been? Mine has been work, and enjoying my lunch breaks. Now that i have finally found a new home, my lunch breaks are not filled with looking at rental properties and dealing with pesky real estate agents. I have enjoyed being able to sit back and relax reading my book, or some blogs, and other wonderful tidbits of freedom from my desk.

I finished reading Neverwhere. Total disaster. I wish I had another book like it to read. I really want to write a post about it, but for now, to compensate myself for my loss, im on the hunt for the the TV series. And since im already on books...

A couple of weeks ago I stubled across The Guernsey Literary and Popato Peel Pie Society in a charity shop, and, as it had been highly recommended by the lovely Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi, I picked it up. Im about a third of the way through at the moment. I have taken an instant liking to the main character, and a character she most certainly is. I'll reserve the rest of my opinion though till ive finished reading it.

I saw this video on travel and it rang so, so true, and was so simple and inspiring I just had to share. I hope you like it.

Blog Post
I always enjoy reading Emma's (Adventures of a London Kiwi) blog and one paticular post caught my eye this week. Its a short post about her favourite book - her passport. I cant say I disagree.

Catch ups
Its always lovley to me, to have the chance to catch up with fellow bloggers. After the business of summer, I finally had the chance to catch up over a coffee with the ladies behind Adventures of a London Kiwi and Happy Ever After Bride. We found a quiet cafe and chatted away. It was a really nice way to spend an evening.

I would love to visit Russia - this photo just makes it look so surreal, like something out of a fairy tale.

What little moment of escape did you enjoy this week?

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25 September 2014

Vogue's Fashion Night Out in London

London is not all theatres, museums and iconic monuments, so many people come here to shop. You only need to walk down Oxford Street and hear all the languages about you to see that.

I was invited by Superdry to visit their Regent St store during Vogue's fashion night out on Tuesday. How could I say no?

The Fireflies playing at Superdry's event
Cute leather coat I wished I could take home
A few other Superdry details from their Premium collection

After Superdry, I decided to make a night of it and have a look at what was happening at some other stores. Liberty had a DJ and were giving out free alcoholic ice-lollies. Gucci had their DJ in their window and were giving out freshly made candy floss.

Gucci's DJ and Candy floss

Diary I fell in love with at Liberty
Hugo Boss - exclusive event complete with velvet rope and fancy cocktails
Cute leather pleated skirt from Esprit

Have you ever bee to a fashion event? How did you find it?

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19 September 2014

Friday Favs #1

Who doesn't like Fridays? I love em. In fact, I love them so much that Thursdays are starting to look good. Anyway, thought I'd share a little snippet of things I enjoyed this week :)

Meeting Mandy
I have been wanting to meet Mandy of Emm in London for ages and finally this week we met for a coffee and a chat. Ive met some wonderful people through this blog and Mandy was as lovely as I thought she would be. She is sweet, friendly and has a zest for life in London. We chatted away a couple of hours without even realising it! Was great meeting you Mandy!

Blog Post
Sammy is another lovely blogger. I enjoyed trawling her posts about her recent trip to Morrocco, especially the one on feeling safe in Marrakech. Its great for a fresh, honest perspective and a bit of a giggle at the end.

Looking forward to seeing this on my own Lisbon trip in November. Did I mention I was going to Lisbon? Finally!!

Since tearing through the Hunger Games trilogy, I've been keen on seeing the movies. I cant wait for the new Hunger Games - The Mockingjay movie. Bit annoyed its in two parts though. Will just have to wait and see if its worth the split.

This week I started reading Neil Gaimans Neverwhere. He is one of my absolute favourite authors for sheer quirkiness, imagination mixed in with reality, colourful characters and laugh-out-loud humour. I'm halfway through it and loving every word. Its one of those books I cant put down, yet don't want to finish, because I know I wont find another book like it again.

What have you enjoyed this week?

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18 September 2014

Peeking behind doors at Open House London

Each year London flings open wide its vaulted, secured, members only, entry fee required, home owner only doors to the public. Icons, monuments, museums, galleries, private homes, government buildings allow the public a glimpse inside what they may not freely see on an average day. Ive tried to see something each of the past two years and learnt a thing or two in the process. Let me share my tips for making the most of the Open House London weekend, this weekend ;)

Tips for making the most of Open House London

1 - See what you cant normally see. Makes sense right? Unless there is a special talk, event, or its free compared to hefty entry price, or the like, don't waste your time on places that are normally open to the public anyway. I'm talking museums, libraries etc. Try livery halls and guilds. They are usually closed to the public but are home to some beautiful buildings and halls. Photos in the post are from the Apothecaries Hall and Middle Temple Hall.

2 - Plan an early start. A lot of place close early afternoon so if you want to see a couple of places start early. Bear in mind that there may be a wait to get in to popular sites. All the information you need to plan can be found on the Open House London website here.

3 - Plan your route. Its far easier to see places that are physically located closer to each other than be criss-crossing London. Plus it'll save you loads of time.

4 - Unless you are totally in love with the Gherkin, avoid it. The line is massive and wraps around the block. You can easily be waiting hours. Yes, hours. I tried once and even during the rain and wind people were still queueing!

5 - Probably too late for this year but a good tip for next time - book early! A lot of places require you to book your place to visit or enter a ballot. For example, you can visit 10 Downing Street, if you are lucky enough to have your name drawn from a ballot.

6 - Enjoy yourself! This is a sneak peak into whats behind London's closed doors. Its like slipping into London Below for a day where no one notices that you are not really supposed to be there. Oh, and take an umbrella!

This weekend I'll be visiting the Drapers Hall and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and maybe one or two others. Unfortunately I missed out on 10 Downing St and the rooftop walk of Victoria Station. Next year ;)

Where will you go? Or, if you aren't in London, what would you go see? 

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