Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Let it snow! My very first snow fall

Today, the 30th day of November I saw my very first snow fall.

Looking out the window mid morning small powdery flakes were drifting down.

Ahh, a light dusting of snow in Chiswick

A light sprinkling of snow has been falling all day, but not enough for any ground coverage.

I had to try really hard not to dance through the streets like a crazy woman - nobody seemed particularly excited by the wintry arrival, well, either that or we were all too scared to let our inner child run free.

Snow flakes feel like little puffs of rain that fall down and tickle your nose.

Other parts of the city are covered in the cold white stuff. Hopefully we get a good snow-dumping overnight so I can have the full snowman, snowball, snowangel experience.

As tomorrow is December 1, MY official start of the festive season, I may have to tuck into a Starbucks Christmas coffee and take a walk through the increasingly merry town of Chiswick.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Off to Bruges

The weather is getting chilly and the days are shorter. For a southern hemisphere girl I need to be reminded that these are the signs of Christmas.

I should have no trouble remembering this coming weekend as I head to Bruges for the annual Christmas Markets.

The BBC weather page says the highest temperature in Bruges between Sunday and Thursday is going to be -1°C... with snow! The lowest, an overnight temperature of -8°C. 

It's a good thing I've just stocked up on wintery supplies from that great British store TK Maxx.

In one successful shopping trip I now have a pair of sheepskin boots, a padded hoodied sweater, jacket, hat and woolly socks. Ahhh.

Now for some Belgian mulled wine!

Read all about our Bruges Xmas experience here.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Rules for public transport: by me

After several months travelling British style I think I now have the right to comment on public transport rules and etiquette.

If we all follow these basic instructions the world will be a much happier place.

Elderly Women (frail and non-frail)
Now this is easy - everyone who is not elderly or disabled should stand for little old ladies - end of story. It's the right thing to do

Elderly Men (frail)
Again, this is a simple rule, everyone who isn't old and has all their limbs in working order should give up their seats.

Elderly Men (non-frail)
This rule is a little more complicated, and may sound a little sexist.

MEN who are not elderly or disabled should stand up for this group the reason being gentlemen of a certain age don't seem to like taking a seat of a 'lady' no matter how young (children are another matter all together) and will act all chivalrous if offered a space by the fairer sex.

Small School Children
I know some people out there think all children should give up seats for full-fare-paying grown-ups, but it seriously makes me mad when the tiniest of pupils are left to slide around the bus or train. These tots often carry backpacks that weigh as much as they do and being so tiny they can't reach the hand rails. So be an adult and give up your seat!

Pregnant Women
I imagine carrying around a future human all day is pretty tiring and the added size and shape doesn't make standing crammed in with other passengers easy. So unless you are an elderly woman or a frail old man - stand. The same courtesy should be applied to those carrying babies and small children.

If you are standing and the train is full do not open your newspaper. Where do you think your elbows are going? That's right - all up in my face!

Upon entering
Let people OFF the train first - you're not going to get left behind, just be patient, please.

Well, those are my rules. Nothing more, nothing less.

Just don't steal my armrest!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

We're jammin' in London

I can't believe it has more than four months since I last picked up an instrument.

We'll my head might not have believed it, but my fingers certainly did -and my shoulders are killing me after playing bass for 2.5 hours.

Anja organised a jam for us at Enterprise Studios on Denmark St just off Charing Cross Road. You'll know you're in the right place when you get to the rows and rows of music shops.

The studio is down a skungey looking alley - musician wanted and gig posters plastered all over the alley walls. The studio is huge and with dozens of rooms off the maze-like hallways it's easy to lose your way - I did on the way out.

Our room came complete with drum kit, guitar, bass and mics - all high quality.

With three guitarists and two guitars I was relegated to bass - which meant for a good workout! I haven't properly played bass since my High School jazz band days.

After a slightly rusty start the four of us were soon blasting our way through cover songs and a few original numbers.

We're hoping to make this a regular event - and when I get my first job I'm off to purchase my very own UK guitar!

Can't wait!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

The tremendous temping team

What a busy little person I've been lately!

Last week I picked up another temp assignment right in the heart of London City in one of the swishest (is that a word? If not it should be!) looking office buildings I've seen.

Walking up to the building on Thursday in my business best the brand new lobby felt like a mini-city.

Through the Underground-like turnstiles and up to the third floor I find out I'm taking my place with five eager young-things like myself.

The company is a massive international consultancy firm and the six of us and our manager are working on data cleaning for a large project.

While the work isn't terribly exciting it certainly requires attention to detail.

The best thing about the role - aside from the fact we get all the soft drinks, tea, coffee and cookies we can handle - is the tremendous temp team.

All of us get on so well - which makes the day fly by.

We're all educated 20-somethings looking for that perfect full-time role in London.  Kiwis, South Africans and Brits - all our lives revolve around the job hunt and - of course - making enough money to get by in the mean time.

Our involvement in the project is over for now, but we may be recalled in the next couple of weeks.

Hopefully each of us will have 'real jobs' by then, but if not I can think of much worse ways to earn some cash!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Brick Lane: London's Little India

Okay, there isn't really a place in London called Little India, but Brink Lane in the east of the city may as well be.

After hitting a photo journalism exhibition in Southbank, Anja Jargil and I headed east.

The street that is Brick Lane is like a little oasis in the middle of nothing - the surrounding streets are void of pretty much anything - nice, clean and tidy Indian restaurants line either side of the road while male staff from each eatery pester you to enjoy your evening meal at their place.
If you're in the mood for bargaining you could probably haggle a good deal. We had hour hearts set on Aladdin's, but it was fully booked at we were starving.

While making our way back through the pushy salesmen we managed to strike a dinner deal for 9pounds each plus a bottle of wine at Poppadoms.

I think we (okay, mainly Anja) may have been a little too loud for the middle-aged English men sitting behind us. They kept looking over and laughing, but didn't ask us to be quiet so oh well.

The food was exactly what you'd expect - warm, tasty curries at a good price - nothing gourmet, but very yum.

Despite feeling like midnight, the night was still young so we popped into Cafe 1001 at 1 Dray Walk for a drink.

On the way, Anja was distracted by some brightly coloured stools hanging in a shop window so had to go in and buy one - from then on she had her own seat for the night.

Cafe 1001 is on a small walkway and is frequented mainly by students though the crowd was quite mixed. There was a good sprinkling of spoilt-rich kids, but they are easy to ignore.

Outside is a large, and beautifully smelling, BBQ and tables for smokers. You can bring the hot food into the main bar/cafe.

If you come here I'd recommend a Bailey's Hot Chocolate to warm up on a cold London night. And while I didn't try one, the selection of brownies and cupcakes in the cabinet looked splendid.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Tube strike, what tube strike

I totally owned my first tube strike last week.

Despite industrial action closing stations and restricting the number of trains I managed to arrive a mere 7 minutes late to the office.

While I know many, many more were affected much worse than I was it was just like any other day for me.

Now I might be wrong, but how can it be a true strike when trains are still running? How can the big people upstairs truly take notice when you can still catch a ride to work?

I'm not suggesting the unions actually do this - but if I wanted to put on a strike that really got people's attention I'd stop each and every train for 24 hours.

A little background on the issue: two transport unions, Rail Maritime and Transport and Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, are at loggerheads with London Underground bosses over job cuts - and it doesn't look like they're going to get their way.

So until the whole mess is sorted out I say bring on the next strike... unless of course you decide to close Turnham Green, then please stop!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The dark, dark night

I'm now in work until the end of the week.

My contract with the Designer has been extended so more money for me - and it certainly is needed!

This week I celebrated my first London Halloween.

It felt very eventful around Chiswick on Saturday even when Halloween was really on the Sunday, but who's counting.

M&S had a witch face painting and giving lollies to the kids and staff at most stores got dressed up in the spooky spirit.

I was invited to a small gathering in Richmond so had to start the hunt for a costume - which of course I left to the last minute.

In the end I found a suitably cheap option in Hammersmith- black cat ears - I'm terribly poor at the moment so my usual Halloween effort will have to wait until next year.

The train to Richmond was scattered with groups of vampires and ghouls - no brave solo costume wearers though.

On Sunday the real Halloween started an hour late thanks to daylight savings coming to an end.

And it doesn't half get dark here!

By 4pm car head lights are on and the sun is well and truly hidden - it's going to take me a while to get used to this. I always wondered why it was pitch black when they finished work on Coronation Street - I thought they were just hard working!

The plus side... leaving home in daylight!