Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday Snapshot

View of London skyline from Embankment

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Some of My Favourites

Here are some of my favourite things and places in London so far:

Elderflower cordial - my boss makes her own and it is delicious. Nothing at all like it in Australia and it tastes great mixed with sparkling water. You can buy it in the shops which tastes nice too. The best brand I have tried is Belvoir Farms Elderflower Presse.

Harrods - I just love this store, even when crowded with people. My favourite part are the Food Halls. I hardly ever buy anything, but I just love to wander around and look at all the displays. They do sell great Norwegian sparkling water though...for a price! The toilets are fantastic too. They have perfumes you can spray on yourself so you smell like you belong there, even if you're dressed more for wandering around BHS (that's British Home Stores).

Marks and Spencer - what a great idea. Supermarket and department store in one! My latest discovery is the Blueberry and Pomegranate Sparkling Water (do you get the feeling I really like sparkling water?) and their white chocolate chip cookies.

Pimms - a scrummy summer drink, served with lemonade, orange, strawberry and mint. Very nice!

Walking in the city - I need to after all those M&S cookies! London is so easy to get around and you can miss so much by just riding the tube. It will take you longer, you'll have to dodge the crowds of people pretty much wherever you go, but it's pretty flat and if you slip on your Crocs (highly recommended!), grab your map and hit the streets, you will get to know this city so much better.

The Tube - as much as I advocate walking, riding the tube is fun as it's the perfect place to people-watch. You need to be a bit careful though, because this is England after all and few people will make eye contact on the tube. I like going down the escalators at the tube stations, so far under the city and then jumping on a low, narrow train, thundering along a tube only inches wider than the train itself and coming out in a whole new part of London all, hopefully, in the space of a few minutes. I guess I like it so much because I've never really thought about the fact that it is so far underground...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Finding Facebook Friends

Facebook, you've done it to me again.

Every now and then, I log onto facebook and do a random search for someone who has popped into my mind, which usually leads to another search, then another, and know how it goes!

This morning I was up until 1am, searching for old school friends on my high school page. Not really the best idea since I have to work today, but I managed to find a couple of "friends". (Can we really call people that if we haven't seen them for 20 years and hardly knew them at all at school?).

And when did everyone get so old? It was hard to recognise some people, while others seemed to have not changed at all. The search is harder when you have to deal with married names too. So, everyone is old and married. How did that all happen?

In other news, I got my British licence in the post yesterday. It's all shiny and new and somehow, they have taken a fairly decent photo and managed to make it look like a mugshot! Do they do that deliberately?

This weekend is a Bank Holiday here, and I briefly considered going along to the Notting Hill Carnival, but while reading about it online, I discovered that some people do not use the porta-loos provided and I decided it was not the best place for me to spend the day in my Crocs! Think about it...!

Anyway, it's my cousins birthday so we'll now be having a BBQ on Monday instead. Nice!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday Snapshot

Do you know the Muffin Man...?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Hottest Day of the far!

OK. I've been here three months now, so I feel British enough to indulge in a truly British past time...discussing the weather.

Today is 30 degrees, and according to Capital FM, the hottest day of the year so far. Since I have been in London, there have been about 6 days that have been the hottest day so far. I am still Australian enough to realise that 30 degrees is not hot. It's just a nice, summer's day.

But it feels hot here. This country is very good at keeping us all warm in winter, but when it comes to keeping us cool in summer...well, not so great. A hot day in Australia sends people into the airconditioned shops to escape the heat. Here, it's often cooler outside. Today, I had to resort to some Aussie summer survival skills. I closed all the curtains early to keep the house cool, opened the windows for the breeze and made sure to drink plenty of water.

While I am talking of the weather, mention needs to be made of that truly scary British male. You know the one. The one who feels the need to wander around shirtless, pale and hairy-backed in the middle of the city at the first glimpse of the sun. Seriously, what is the deal with THAT?

OK, I understand that the sun is not out often here and you have to enjoy it while you can, but please men, put your shirts back on! If you're on the beach, by all means, take that shirt off. In the city, leave it on. Your skin, and most of the people who see you, will thank you for it!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday Snapshot

Just had a quick flick through some of my pics and came up with this gem! This photo was taken at the only polo match I have ever been to in my life, on my first weekend here in London. I thought it was appropriate since this weekend marks three months since I!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Licence to Drive

Today I had to got to the DVLA in Wimbledon to change my Aussie licence for a British one.

I was prepared. I had dealt with British red tape before.

First up, I drove to Sainsbury's and their photo booth for my recent passport style photos, which I have to say are not too bad at all (shocker!) and then made my way by bus to Wimbledon, somewhere I hadn't been before. I had my D1 form all completed, my passport, my new photo, proof of UK address, my Aussie licence and the princely sum of 50 pounds. I was ready to wait as long as necessary and had no other plans for the rest of the day.

Getting off the bus near the station, I found the office just around the corner and located the licencing section on the 1st floor. I took my ticket, opened the door and prepared to take my seat and wait for my number to be called. I even had a book to read!

The waiting area was...empty! My number was next to be called and five minutes (yes, it's true!) later, I had surrendered my Aussie licence, had my passport and ID checked, paid the fee and was on my way out the door.

I was stunned, to say the least. I thought back to when I first arrived in Queensland from South Australia three years ago and I spent half a day at Queensland Transport trying to change my SA licence to a QLD one. I had expected this experience to be at least that much hassle. But no. It wasn't bad at all.

Then it hit me. I had just given up my Australian driver's licence for a British one. The licence I have had for almost half my life. What does that mean? Am I no longer Australian? I can't explain it, but I feel a bit sad without it. Like a tie to home has been cut off. I know that's crazy.

So this isn't just a holiday, then? I live in London now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I'm sick. Pretty sure it isn't swine flu, but I'm at home, curled up in bed with my laptop, breathing in enough eucalyptus oil to make a koala jealous and feeling like I could really use a new head.

This week is a pretty quiet one for me. On Sunday, I spent the day with my cousin and her kids in the city. After an awesome service at church, we headed to the V&A for lunch in their gorgeous cafeteria and spent some time watching the kids splash in the paddling pool in the garden. That day, I decided to wear some shoes other than my Crocs (just for a change) and paid the price...blisters! So, I'll bite the bullet and just wear the practical, comfortable shoes and be done with it.

Escaping the city, we headed to Westfield for a taste of home. No matter where I am, I feel at home in a shopping mall. Please don't get me wrong, I don't really like shopping much at all, but in a mall, things make sense. The shops may all be different, but the feel is still the same. When I first moved to Crieff in Scotland back in 2003, I remember walking into the mall in Stirling, after a few months of "High Street" shopping and feeling like I had come home.

Anyway, back to this week. The family are off to Devon again this weekend and I get the weekend off...all four glorious days from Thursday on. Originally, my plan was to get up to Manchester to visit my friends, but prefering to be selfish and keep this cold all to myself, the plan has been put on hold.

One thing I do have to do this week is change my Australian licence to a British licence for car insurance purposes. I'm not sure how I feel about it, since I will need to give up my Australian licence to get my UK one. Yes. They will take it away. Gone. Forever? Not sure, but it feels very final. At the end of the day, it's just a piece of paper (plastic?), right?

Well, that's how my week is shaping up. Sorry to disappoint you if were looking to read some glamorous tales of the expat life in London. Please stay tuned. I'm sure future posts will have something more exciting to report, other than head colds!

Now, where are my tissues...?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Snapshot (and a little bit more!)

The Sunken Garden at The Orangery in Kensington Gardens (Phew! That's a mouthful!)

Sorry there hasn't been anything since last Sunday's snapshot, but this week has been pretty same-old, except for the weather. It has rained every time the kids want to go out and been sunny every time they want to stay home. Not much to tell...playgrounds, playdates and endless farmyards!

I did get out to the cinema to see The Ugly Truth. It was good, but not great. Sorry to ruin it for you but it was very predictable and what was with Gerard Butler's American accent? Don't they realise that his accent is so much of his appeal?? Anyway, it was a nice afternoon spent out of the rain and out of the house for the back-to-back playdates that the kids mum had booked for them!

Hopefully, there is some more to report next week.

P.S Am I talking about the weather too much? Don't want to start getting all "British" on you! (No offence meant...honest!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sunday Snapshot

I guess we really should let the Brits win...sometimes!