Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Budget Smudget!

My mum always jokes to me that I’ll look back on the days that I was in London literally counting my last pennys. I sure hope by the end of this trip I learn the lesson of the value of money because momentarily I’m thinking I still have a lot to learn. I worked out a silly budget yesterday on what I can save on this month; it went a little something like this:
This month I am in between jobs so I have a grand total of £1300.00
Lunch: £1.50 per day-£52.50(per month)
Dinner: £4.50 Per night-£157.50
Rent: £540.00
Phone bill: £30.00
Travel: £120.00
Total: That leaves me with £400.00 and that is just counting bare minimal!!!!!
One thing I have been deprived of since I’ve been in London is shopping and it’s devastating me!!!
NOTE TO FUTURE SELF: WTF am I thinking! I really hope you save some money for me when I’m older so I can be living it up laughing about how ridiculous my monthly budget seemed at the time.
p.s: I really hope future me will like drinking martinis, because it looks super cool….

There's something about Soho

Soho is where it’s at! There’s something about Soho that makes you want to put on your best dress and go for a dance. I always seem to end up in vibrant Soho on a night out and not because most of my male friends are ‘fabuooosh’,but it’s a really nice place to chill. Soho is not only one of London’s hot spots for gay bars but it’s also has one of London’s biggest film scenes what with all of the celebrities walking around (not that I’ve ever seen anyone worth writing home about). It also is home to a couple of really cool Jazz bars including one of the worlds oldest Jazz bars Ronnie Scotts( I really I love getting dressed in my best dress and six inch heels and not feeling like your getting preyed on by a bunch of meat heads; because Kylie Minogue is pumping and the cocktails are flowing!

Soho House
So when I first moved to London me and the girls decided to hit the city for a night out on the town. We dressed to the nines and had no idea where we were going, this was weird for us because coming from the Gold Coast we knew everyone around town and the social scene like the back of our hand. We even worked at the nightclubs back home, so it was refreshing to go somewhere new. We started off at a typical English pub and had a couple of drinks. We mad our way around to a few bars, still to this day I don’t know the names or what time of night it was. We met these guys (they seemed nice enough) and they invited us to come to another bar with them. We though why not! It’s not like we have to go meet anyone as we don’t know anyone! We walked into the inconspicuous place that had a snotty door lady asking to see membership cards. I was thinking what the hell are they asking for membership cards for; we proceeded to drink and mix with people through out the night. These people weren’t your average mix of people, I kept thinking wow the Ceo of Sony BMG and this architect that had designed a famous building in China, what are they doing here? It turns out we were in Soho house, one the most exclusive member only bars in London.  To put this scenario into perspective I was stoked because of the reference to the famous sex and the city episode where Samantha gets kicked out for lying about her membership, so so cool to be invited in!

Justine and I in Soho House

Antonio and I Soho

The Village Soho

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Missing home

Back home I would be described as a home body, I’m very close with my family and I love spending time just hanging out at home. It’s hard to think that when you leave home you won’t be seeing your family for two years. I know these days it’s really easy to keep in touch and skype or viber but when you’re so busy all day and then after two hours of travel to get to and from work it’s the last thing you feel like doing. A lot can happen in two years and it drives me crazy every time I miss my brothers formal or his 18th or mums birthday. I wish sometimes I could fly back for a weekend just so I could spend a day at the beach playing with my dogs or having a family barbeque. As they say the grass is always greener, when I was in Australia I couldn’t wait to get out and now after two weeks of overcast weather in London I’m ready to leave yesterday!
When you meet new people here the first question they ask you is ‘why the hell are you over here if you’re from Australia?’ But these days I seam to be running out of answers. I think that might be the upside to uprooting your life to move to another country, so you can appreciate your home when you get back. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining because I absolutely love London and all it has to offers, I just think this city is missing heart sometimes.
Here are a few things I miss the most:
My puppies at the beach

Cards sent from home

My sister

Family events

My brothers formal

My dora
My things

Christmas with the Donaghys

It’s always exciting when you have a new partner to see how their family celebrates different events such as Christmas or Easter. My first Christmas is England was extra different because I came over from Australia and his family are a typical English family. It was hard to spend one of my first Christmases away from my family because we are all so close but I couldn’t have spent it with a nicer one!
A Christmas in Australia:
First off the temperature is high, the barbeques are burning up and it’s so hot that all you want to eat is cold fresh seafood and Go for a dip in the ocean. Swimming is a must and is a ten minute drive from where you’re living in most cases; many alcoholic drinks are consumed (because of the heat of course). And because I am from a fairly big family it can become quiet loud and rowdy.
My Australian family lunch

My first English Christmas:
Joes family home is a quaint little cottage like house in
Hampton Court
just south of London. It is a quite lovely little street surrounded by big bushy trees and petite cottage houses. Because Joe comes from a small family it was really nice to see how they really made an effort to spend the whole day together playing board games and chatting about the best bits of the year. It was cold outside which made me enjoy the roast turkey and a glass of champers.
The donaghys

I think to sum it up I enjoyed both and it’s nice to experience a different families Christmas traditions, but Christmas never really feels the same without your family there. It doesn’t matter if its sweltering heat or a blizzard outside- Home is where the heart is.

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Friends

Moving countries can be really hard and really lonely! The first month that I moved over here I really missed my close friends and family. I thought finding a job and friends would be easy. For that first month I was ready to pack up shop and move home. When you grow up in the same place for a number of years you build a great network of close friends that you can rely on it’s a weird to think you have to start all over again. Starting fresh In a foreign country and not knowing anyone this can take some time and effort.
When I met Joe this was great because I was automatically introduced to his great friends and family so this made me feel a little more established. I also started working a temp job that helped me get to know a lot of girls in the same position as me and we bonded straight away.So within the space of a couple of moths of hard work and lonely nights I had established a great home life and a great work life. The one bit of advice that I would give if moving over to another country is expect the worst and be prepared. Work hard to make friendships last (the ones that matter) and plan to go to events together. In London it’s so easy to meet someone you really click with and then never speak to them again. So make the effort to go out of your way and invite them on a specific date (even if it means purchasing a diary).
The friends that I have valued the most in London are the ones that I haven’t had to travel across the city to meet up with. The ones that you don’t have to spend $$$ to have a good time, my friend Matteo comes over for dinner and Vino and it really reminds me of just sitting around the couch with my own family. So thank you Matteo for your company and friendship!
Greg, Matty and Joe

New years with the boys

Work people

Naomi, Sean, Shannon and I

Antonio Love x

Miss Elle Bacon and I 
Me and the boys x

Owen, Greg and I

Matteo and I

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate festival 2012

The chocolate festival
Miss Elle Bacon and I were chilling out in South bank and stumbled across a chocolate festival, now you can imagine what this must have been like for two girls that were heavily hung over- Ridiculous! We strolled around and put our buying faces on and sampled everything we possibly could- Churros, mini red velvet cupcakes, chocolate slabs different fudge it was a Willy Wonka dream come true!

Winter wonderland- Hyde park

Every December in London Hyde park gets transformed into a magical Winter Wonderland, and that’s the only way to describe it! Crowds gather to enter through the gates of Hyde Park to get a taste of Christmas London style. I loved the rows and rows of sweet shops and nick nacks the smell of the mulled wine and sizzling German sausages. The Christmas markets were packed with little kids wanting to taste and touch everything (me being one of them). It was such a nice feeling having families around me even if they weren’t my own winter wonderland really had a lovely vibe to it.

Football in England

If there’s one thing I always get caught watching its football! When I was younger my punishment was to watch football with my dad, so I would say I wasn’t really a fan of football in the slightest. But when I moved over here I can only appreciate the passion that the English people have for this sport. At first I was thinking what’s the big deal? It’s only a game! But then Joe explained to me that it positively is more than a game it’s the stories behind the players and the football clubs that actually make the game interesting. As my mum said ‘If I had my time over I would have embraced the game instead of shun it!’ I still haven’t been to a live match but It’s definitely on the to do list before my time is up!
Here’s a few funny stories/chants they have come up with throughout the years:
  • When Rangers goalkeeper Andy Goram was revealed to be mildly schizophrenic, quick-witted fans chanted this to the tune of ‘Guantanamera’: “Two Andy Gorams / There’s only two Andy Gorams”
  • I like this Celtic chant because it’s wrong on so many levels. First of all, Shunsuke Nakamura is Japanese so is less likely to eat a traditional Chinese dish. And as for his likely political allegiances, well… This is to the tune of Winter Wonderland: “There’s only one Nakamura / One Nakamura / He eats Chow Mein / He votes Sinn Fein / Walking in a Nakamura wonderland”
  • Huddersfield Town sing this about their free-scoring striker Lee Novak to the tune of Sloop John B: “We’ve got Novak / We’ve got Nova-ak / Our carpets are filthy / We’ve got Novak”
  • Former Forest and Birmingham striker Stern John was the recipient of this superbly-clever chant – it wouldn’t have sounded out of place at a chess match, such was its intellect. This was sung to the tune of ‘Quartermaster’s Store’: “He’s big / He's fast / His first name should come last / Stern John / Stern John”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Refinery

So the girls and I decided to go for a little after work drink (as every one seems to do in London) we crossed over the Blackfriars bridge and walked into a little place called the Refinery Bar. We were greeted by a small well dressed man and he took us to our seats at the back of the bar. This place was packed for a weeknight and just what we needed to wind down!
The food: We ordered the antipasti platter for four for three, and to be honest it wasn’t the greatest! The squid was flavourless and the dips (taramosalata & tzatziki) were bland. I was a little disappointed because I expected the food to match the venue!
The ambiance: As I mentioned the place was packed, it kind of felt like a warehouse converted into a restaurant. Deep soul lounge music pumped from the high ceilings, which I liked; I think it added a certain buzz to the crowed venue.
The service: The waiters made a few mistakes giving us the wrong drinks and overcharging us, but they made up for it in personality!
Overall: I think I would love to go back and try the food again, because the menu did look amazing and I’d like to give it a second chance. The place is great for a social drink or two and has a certain trendy laid back feeling to it.

Laduree macaroons!

I’m just going to go ahead and post about how fabulous Laduree macaroons are because a client just bought in a whole packet for me… I am sitting here having a Mexican stand off with them because they are to pretty to eat and I don’t even want to think about how many calories are in them…
But if I’m going to eat sugar it may as well be wrapped in a pretty package J

Thames Cruise

So my crazy friend Elle Bacon had found a free Thames lunch boat cruise voucher in her house, so she decided to invite me along for the ride! It turned out to be a lovely sunny day (which is rare for London). After boozing it up the night before we both forced each other get out of bed and enjoy the day. We headed towards embankment where the boat was departing at 12:00pm, only to find a massive queue of guests all waiting to get on the same boat. So after waiting in the hot sun for half an hour we finally make it to the front of the queue, the boat was already running and ready to go. Not only were we unable to check in, but our booking wasn’t even on the system. I could see Elle’s face was burning up by the minute and about to explode, I was too hung over to care. One of the receptionists ran out to the boat and made a last desperate plea to try and get us a table. She scuttled back to the boat yelling get on it’s about to take off!
I was expecting us to get shoved over in a busy back room somewhere, but today the gods shun upon us and we got escorted into the VIP room. The meal was three courses long; for starter we enjoyed a combination of pickled salmon and cucumber followed by breast of chicken with balsamic reduction and finished up with caramel panna cotta. I have done all of the tours of London top bus and all but I must say this is a really nice way to see all of the sights and enjoy another side of London.
Not bad for a hung over munch I say!

There are three sorts of people; those who are alive, those who are dead, and those who are at sea.
- Old Capstan Chantey attributed to Anacharsis, 6th Century BC

Monday, April 16, 2012

100 Foods

100 Foods
So I found this 100 foods App off face book, and basically these are the foods you have to try before you die… If you’re a 'real foodie’- My number is 58!
How many have you done?

1. Abalone
2. Absinthe
3. Alligator 
4. Baba Ghanoush
5. Bagel & Lox
6. Baklava
7. BBQ Ribs
8. Bellini
9. Birds Nest Soup
10. Biscuits & Gravy
11. Black Pudding
12. Black Truffle
13. Borscht
14. Calamari
15. Carp
16. Caviar
17. Cheese Fondue
18. Chicken & Waffles
19. Chicken Tikka Masala
20. Chile Relleno
21. Chitlins
22. Churros
23. Clam Chowder 
24. Cognac
25. Crab Cakes
26. Crickets
27. Currywurst
28. Dandelion Wine
29. Dulce De Leche
30. Durian
31. Eel
32. Eggs Benedict
33. Fish Tacos
34. Foie Gras
35. Fresh Spring Rolls
36. Fried Catfish
37. Fried Green Tomatoes 
38. Fried Plantain
39. Frito Pie
40. Frogs' Legs 41
42. Funnel Cake
43. Gazpacho
44. Goat
45. Goat's Milk
46. Goulash
47. Gumbo
48. Haggis
49. Head Cheese
50. Heirloom Tomatoes
51. Honeycomb
52. Hostess Fruit Pie 
53. Huevos Rancheros
54. Jerk Chicken
55. Kangaroo
56. Key Lime Pie
57. Kobe Beef
58. Lassi
59. Lobster
60. Mimosa 
61. Moon Pie
62. Morel Mushrooms
63. Nettle Tea
64. Octopus
65. Oxtail Soup
66. Paella
67. Paneer
68. Pastrami on Rye
69. Pavlova
70. Phaal
71. Philly Cheese Steak
72. Pho
73. Pineapple & Cottage Cheese
74. Pistachio Ice Cream
75. Po' Boy
76. Pocky
77. Polenta
78. Prickly Pear
79. Rabbit Stew
80. Raw Oysters
81. Root Beer Float
82. S'mores
83. Sauerkraut
84. Sea Urchin
85. Shark
86. Snail
87. Snake
88. Soft Shell Crab
89. Som Tam
90. Spaetzle 
91. Spam
92. Squirrel
93. Steak Tartare
94. Sweet Potato Fries
95. Sweetbreads
96. Tom Yum
97. Umeboshi
98. Venison
99. Wasabi Peas
100. Zucchini Flowers

The Roadhouse- Covent Garden

The Roadhouse was Fabulous!
Great for an after work venue if you want to have a laugh and enjoy heavy base hip hop /club music. The place is a little dark and dingy but those elements add to the fun of it! The service was outstanding and better than most of the slightly posh places that I have dined at. We both got a cocktail each followed by beers a starter and a main (portions were huge!) all for £30.00.
Great value, great food and excellent service!
Think Greece gone bad ass!

Dim Sum Fun!

One of my favourite dates with Joe was in China Town at his favourite Dim Sum Joint. I have been to some upmarket places and you end up paying twice as much and getting served half the portion. Joe and I ordered about 5 different dishes and a bottle of wine and the bill came to £35.00. I also like the authenticity of the bustling China town restaurant, the waiter who had serious attitude problems only added to the conversation and made both of us laugh. The place was filled with business men and tourists and was a little impersonal but when you’re paying less and getting served up more you can expect a little chaos.

Fight the nothingness- on the way to work

A few ways to fight the nothingness- On the way to work
So to follow up on my last post, I though I would share different ways to fight the nothingness on the way to work. So last week I was on the bus home from work and I took a moment to look up while we were crossing the waterloo bridge and admire the view. I also took a moment to look around the bus and see how many other people were looking out to my surprise no one was looking; they were either reading the metro or playing with there kindles. The bus was packed full of Zombies, I know it was 04:00pm in the afternoon and everyone was on the way home from work. But it got me thinking how many people just go to and from work and don’t take a moment to stop and breathe. Enjoy the surroundings; take in the art the beauty and the energy that London certainly has to offer.
It seemed that London had rubbed off on me more than I thought because I was certainly guilty of walking like a robot down the busy streets of London. The next few days I made a point of walking tall not looking down and avoiding people. Stopping at the big ben to admire how tall he was, Taking a few seconds to take in the upbeat Louie Armstrong number the man was playing on his saxophone.
I also made a point of wearing my own clothes to and from work so I didn’t feel like to much of a clone.
Listen to some great fucking tunes!
Here are a few things I saw along the way to work:

This man is my favorite- Because he may look crazy but he's really just doing what we all wish we could do- Take off our shoes and relax!

The under the bridge musicians

The view from westminster tube station