Location: London, UK
Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you have a lovely Christmas and a properous and Happy 2008!
Sam and I had an unusal Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve I went to St Pauls Cathedral to listen to the chior and the service. There were 2,000 people there and it was just magic! The voices in the big Cathedral were like nothing I could describe - angels. This is definitely a 'must do' for future UK Christmases!!!
Christmas morning was relaxed with early morning phone calls to family at home, and a visit to the Church (across the road - convenient!) and a hot breakfast with the traditional British drink of Champage and OJ - yum! Then it was off to lunch at a Lebanese restuarant in Kensington.
Long story, but our traditional Christmas feast was postponed to Boxing Day, so Sam and I did something a bit different - Lebanese! Lunch was really nice and kinda bizzare as the people eating there were all sorts from a sweet old couple, to young families and us! Was really nice though.
Given that there's not much open on Christmas Day, the next stop was a hotel up the road, the Oriental. They were having Christmas celebrations and so we sat in the bar and had yummy Moet champagne cocktails and enjoyed the atmosphere. We picked up some groovy hats and had a really nice time.
After that it was the Langford Hotel. VERY posh. I'm not sure we'd get in the there on a normal night!!! The hotel is just beautiful - magnificent Christmas Tree in the foyer and lots of antiques. We sat in the Library Bar, had another Champagne cocktail and just generally enjoyed people watching and relaxing.
We were a bit over hotels after that, so it was off to the Slug and Lettuce in Fulham (the only other place we knew that was open) to meet some friends (kinda ironic as it's a bit of dive - going from the Langford to the Slug is a MAJOR step down!). So, we ended the day in a room packed full of Antipodeans celebrating. A bizzare Christmas, but heaps of fun none-the-less.
Boxing Day was 'feast' day, and we had an absolute ball cooking turkey breast, cranberry sauce (from scratch), roast vegies, brussell sprouts (tradtional British apparently) and the rest. Lizzie, Chloe and Wazzer came over and we ended up dancing the night away in our living room. A fun day had by all!
So, even though we missed our rellies and friends, Christmas was a warm and fun day. No snow though!!!! Maybe next year???
Location: Ashburn, Virginia, USA
Well, here I am in Ashburn, Virginia in the good ol' US-of-A. I'm here for two weeks for work, and have been here for 10 days now. I was fortunate enough to arrive in time for Halloween and got to experience a good ol' American Halloween, complete with trick-a-treaters, jack-o-lanterns and candy. It was heaps of fun!
Ashburn is near Washington DC (40 min drive), so I went to DC for the weekend, last weekend. I did the tacky tourist thing and got tickets on a double-decker sight-seeing bus, which was great! I got to see all the sights of DC and get a good feeling for where everything is. There is SO much to see in DC. I reckon you could live here and visit something every day and still not see it all in a year: so many museums, monuments, and events.
I caught up with one of Catherine's friends, Helen, and some of her friends for dinner and drinks in Georgetown which was really nice and fun. Was good to chat to some Antipodeans! We drove past the Lincolm Memorial at night and it totally captivated me, so it was top of the list for sites to see the next day. And it didn't disappoint. There's something about it that is just awesome in the true sense of the word.
I also wanted to see the White House so had a nice walk around DC between the monuments, having a wonderful encounter with the many squirrels that inhabit DC. I was glad that I'd bought some peanuts to nibble on as I could make friends with the squirrels!
Then, back to work on Monday. It's been a busy and tiring week, but everyone at work has been so nice and hospitable. Caitlyn, my boss, took me to the Kennedy Centre to see a play, Shear Madness. It's interactive comedy and was really good. It's one of the longest running comedy's in the US and I can see why!
This weekend is a chill weekend. I went to a bar last night with some of the people from work and am just relaxing in my hotel room today watching my HUGE TV. I'll walk on over to the shops later this afternoon. It's funny you know, no one walks anywhere (literally) so it's bizzare to be the only one walking on the streets. There aren't even any pedestrian crossings at the traffic lights!!!
Then, tomorrow, Caitlyn is taking me to see George Washington's farm and also some more of the gorgeous Autumn colours. The trees here are just spectacular!! I'm flying out on Monday night, back in the UK on Tuesday morning. So, until then...
Location: Middle Farm, Firle, Sussex, England
I lurve Apples!!! ...so the Apple Festival at Middle Farm was a 'must do' event! Located in the tiny country village of Firle, in the county of Sussex in Southern England, Middle Farm holds an Apple Festival every year. I came across the festival while doing a country walk a few weeks ago, so we thought 'what a good idea!'...
There is an old-time fair, Morris Dancers, Apple Fare, Ciders (over 100!), bands, and of course, Chicken and Sheep racing!!! Sam, Lyndsay, Wazza and I drove down early Saturday morning and stayed in a gorgeously-tacky room in Brighton. We took a train and taxi to Middle Farm. We were not sure what to expect, and so did not expect much, but you can imagine our delight to find that it was a lovely, homey, old-fashioned affair.
It was busy, but not too many people so you could easily get around. The rides were hand painted and just gorgeous. There were various stalls, and to my delight a coconut shy! I have read all about these in various Enid Blyton books etc, and since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to try one. It was fun. I mean, I was hopeless at it, but it was fun doing it. The man who ran the shy was so stunned at my excitement about it all, he gave me a coconut, even though I came nowhere near actually hitting one!!!! We went on the Merry Go Round, and Sam and Lyndz went on the Chair-O-Plane. It was fun!!
I shopped up big in the home-made food stall, buying various apple treats, cheeses and sausages. Yum!
There was a Ferret Tent, selling the fact that 'Ferrets are Fun' (yes, I even bought the pen...), a Mouseland (which I didn't go into - that was taking it a bit far I thought), and of course, my favourite event of the day, the Chicken and Sheep races!!! Yes, you read that correctly! Check out my photos for proof. Hysterical!!!
And of course, there was a bar selling home-made cider! To be honest, home-made cider is not that great tasting. 'Rocket fuel' and 'Dettol' were two ways we would describe the taste, but hey, when in Rome... The bar was in a huge tent lined with bales of hay for seats and country bands playing. After the end of the day there was a big crowd dancing and we had hay fights and it was heaps of fun!!!
All in all. Fun was had by all! So, I repeat - I love Apples!!! :o)
We ended up in Brighton to watch the Rugby World Cup Final and then party the night away to the wee hours of the morning. It was a shame England lost, but it was still a fun night!!!
Location: London, UK
Hi Everyone, sorry its been a while since Ive written. Settling into London has had its ups and downs and its been a while since Ive had the time to write..
I was VERY fortunate to be able to stay with my friend Amy when I arrived in London. She and her flatmates, Catherine (NZ) and Mark (UK) have been so welcoming and hospitable. It took me waaaay longer to find a place than Id thought, so I ended up sleeping on the floor of Amys bedroom for almost 3 weeks.
I initially thought that Id find a room in share accommodation with strangers, but my friend Chloe was also looking for a place so we ended up sharing together. We moved into a 2 bedroom basement flat in Clapham North 5 weeks ago. We were only there 1 week when we started smelling this vile smell. Over the following days it just got worse, mainly in my bedroom. Unfortunately our landlords were overseas so there wasnt much we could do. The smell got so bad that I couldnt sleep in my room, and after one night on the couch, I started sleeping at friends places!!
You can imagine how stressful this was. I was supposed to be working from home and I couldnt even BE in my bedroom, let along working there for 8 hours a day!!! We ended up discovering that the smell was coming from a backed up sewage drain and that this happens every 4-6 months or so. The Council finally fixed the smell, but needless to say, Chloe and I decided to move out. The stress was just piling up as wed signed a 8 month lease and wed paid a lot of bond and we were worried that wed be trapped there, in addition, I was packing up my computer every day to work in internet cafes or pubs or at Amys while trying to sort this mess out. It was soooo stressful I cant even begin to describe it. On top of that, trying to sort out bank accounts, telephones, finances and all the other UK Red Tape; it was a crazy time.
Anyway, Chloe decided that as she was going home to Australia soon, shed find a flat with some other people (no, we havent fallen out!!), and as Sam Benecke (a friend of mine from Aus) was looking for a flat, we decided to move in together. We found a FANTASTIC flat that was excellent value and just gorgeous (views, spa bath, big balcony, newly renovated), but the problem was it was 3 bedroom, so we needed another person.
The hunt was on to find another person before we had to move in, otherwise we would loose the flat and our deposit. While all that was going on, the landlords from my stinky flat (aka 'stink city') came back and we had to wait 2 days before we could talk to them before moving out. For a few days there, I had committed to the new place but still didnt know whether I would need to fork out a lot of money to get out of my old one. It was crazy.
Anyway, Sam and I used our marketing skills and blanketed the London share accommodation market with ads, having numerous showings of the flat, until we found the perfect flatmate, an English girl (with Scottish heritage) called Lyndsay.
Anyway, to cut to the end of the story, the Stink City landlords let me out of the lease without any extra money (phew!), and I moved out last Saturday, into our lovely new place. Weve been here a week and I just LOVE it!!! I am sooo glad that our persistence paid off and we fought the good fight to get this place. Ive posted some photos of it, and will update them once weve settled in a bit.
But, in amongst all of that, I've been getting out and about! Clapham is a great part of London - always heaps going on! It has a massive park (English call them Commons) and on nice days hoards of people flock to the Common to picnic and get-together. Clapham is quite a young area, lots of bars and pubs and it's very social. I've got a few friends that live here and we all catch up or hang out at each other's places.
Sam and I have gotten in touch with Wayne Smith from CPA days and have already had him and another friend over for dinner on our lovely big balcony. We've got views of Big Ben, The London Eye, St Pauls and more! I'll post some photos...
I've also been on two country walks. The first one was from Arundel to Amberley in Sussex. In England, there are public footpaths that run all over the county. They typically go through farms or the woods and are so beautiful! Catherine has a book of country walks and we're trying to do one every month or so. Don't know how many more we'll get in as winter is fast approaching
Amy, Sam, Anna (a friend of Catherine's from NZ) and I did one on Saturday from Glynde to Seaford and it was one of the most wonderful days of my life. Absolutely rewarding, breathtaking and fun! Ive posted some photos for you to check out.
A few weeks ago, Sam and I did some exploring around Londons parks and spent a lovely Saturday morning walking around Hampstead Heath and Regents Park. Ive posted piccies of that too
Last Tuesday, Amy, Nicole (a friend from CPA in Aus) and some of Amys friends and I went to see TapJam. Its a really cool event where Tap Dancers (both professionals and amateurs) get up and tap to Jazz. None of it is rehearsed and its really funky. They only perform every 2 months, but Im looking forward to the next one!
Well, I think that's a long enough entry for now. I'm so glad to get your messages and to know that someone is reading this!!! I promise that now I'm settled you'll get more regular updates.
Take care everyone - I miss you all soooo much!