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London Life

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Hi everyone,

I’ve been a bit slack with this blog since our big holiday ended, but I thought I’d write a quick note to tell you all about how the latest instalment in our European adventure is going.

We arrived in London at the start of September, and spent a few weeks in a dirty, run down studio apartment in Bayswater. The suburb itself is quite fun with Hyde Park on its doorstep and lots of tourists everywhere. Kensington and Notting Hill are a short walk away, and we found a great yoga school (The life centre) and gym (The Porchester Centre), so things were looking good.

We even did parkrun for the first time (free 5km timed runs), and I was SO proud of myself, although honestly I wanted to throw up at the end. Endurance athlete I am not.

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After a few weeks living in the hovel, we moved into a friends house in Hoxton, which is inner East. We were there for a week and had a great time exploring Hoxton, Hackney, Shoreditch and the surrounding areas. We weren’t quite hipster enough, but we did our best. We did discover Broadway market which is a lovely street gourmet food market in Hackney, which we fell in love with.

Here is some beautiful street art from Hoxton, we’ve enlarged these pics and framed them, and they are now above our TV at home.

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While there I discovered London has a large network of canals, it’s so lovely walking along the canal and stopping off at the various cafes and pubs along the way, I highly recommend it. You do have to watch out for the cyclists zipping around, but it’s a really lovely outing.

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Then we spent a month in Battersea, which is south of the Thames. It’s a lovely area and there are some great shops and restaurants near Clapham Junction, but for us it was just a little bit out of the heart of London. I signed up to volunteer with the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and I did go out with them once, but sadly since then work has got in the way. They are an amazing institution though, and if (when!) we eventually get a pet, if we’re still in London it will be the first place I head to. While in Battersea… we did a puzzle!! Living the high life.

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We ended up finding a flat in Angel, Islington – in the inner north of London. We both love our little flat and feel really at home there – we even have a garden which is an absolute luxury, so we’re looking forward to summer BBQs. The area is really lovely, lots of restaurants, cafes and bars, boutique style shopping, a big cinema, and really central – it takes me 45 minutes to walk to work which is through the city and over the Thames.

Here I am in our flat, with our gorgeous piece of art we bought at the Battersea Affordable Art Fair, it makes me happy every time I look at it.

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Oh, and our “pet” who came with the flat, very sweet touch.

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Dan got work with a marketing agency almost straight away, and is now about to start his second contract with another agency, so he’s going really well. I started with a management consultancy 3 months ago, working in the energy retail space on customer focused projects, so it’s right up my alley. They are a lovely bunch of people as well, so we seem to have both landed on our feet. I travel up to Northern England from Monday until Thursday most weeks, but am getting used to it and racking up those reward points J My Monday morning commute is 4 hours, compared to 10 minutes for Dan once he starts his new job … not quite fair but oh well.

Here is an amazing sunset I took from the office up north, just outside of Durham, which is also a very pretty old town.

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We’ve seen lots of London sights and attractions (I’ll write up another blog on the topic), we spent Christmas at the snow in Meribel Mottaret, France with a bunch of new and old friends and we’ve really started to establish a London life. We’re off for another week of skiing next weekend, in Chamonix, France for Dan’s 30th birthday which is this Monday, and have lots of people visiting, and lots of places to see over the year. It’s very exciting.

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I definitely have moments of feeling home sick, missing my family and friends and occasionally wondering how on earth I ended up over here, but mostly I’m super-excited about exploring Europe as much as possible, gaining international work experience, meeting lovely new people and having a ball with Dan.

Here we are at Meribel Mottaret!!

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So far this year we have locked in the upcoming ski trip, Easter in Sri Lanka, a weekend in Berlin, a wedding in Ireland and a music festival in Cornwall. On the cards is a weekend in Munich (for Oktoberfest), a long weekend in Rome, a weekend in Paris, a weekend in Amsterdam, a beach break somewhere warm, and a few other half-baked plans that may or may not happen. Whatever ends up happening, we are determined to make the most of being in Europe.

It’s been so lovely hearing from a number of friends and family, so thanks to all who have dropped me a note or called/skyped/lined/whats-apped/vibered/facebooked/linkedin-ed, and/or emailed me!!! Social media really is incredible when you’re overseas, I was in a cab going from Doncaster to Dearne Valley on Wednesday morning (Yorkshire way), and while I was in the cab I called mum using Line and it was almost perfect reception. INCREDIBLE. So different to when I was in Europe 10 years ago and had to find an internet cafe every week to send an email out, or buy a phone card to use at a public phone.

Anyway, just thought I’d give a general update on how we’re going. More to follow I promise with updates on what we’ve seen and where we’ve been!

Lisa x


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We’ve arrived!

First things first – we have terrible wifi in our apartment, and life has been a touch hectic, but I am definitely going to finish the rest of the blog posts about our big holiday very soon.

But more importantly – we made it to London!! We arrived on Tuesday on the Eurostar and have certainly kept ourselves busy since then.

We’ve got our bank accounts, new phone numbers, joined a gym, joined a yoga studio, applied for NIN’s (like a tax file number), met up with Dan’s mates, and seen quite a bit of London. We will be on the job hunt in earnest over the next couple of days, but I met with a recruiter last week and we are both feeling good about our job prospects.

This morning we watched the All Blacks play Argentina at a pub with Dan’s lovely kiwi mates, then wandered around the beautiful Borough market.

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We then went to Greenwich where the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival was in full swing and had a lovely afternoon wandering the village.

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Greenwich and Black Heath are beautiful, lots of space and greenery with a lovely small English village vibe. And of course there is also the Greenwich meridian line!

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The painted room was also an unexpected delight.

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I’m writing this post on my mobile phone so if it looks funny my apologies!

Finally – after the gym tonight we decided to treat ourselves with a bottle of wine to have with a home cooked meal – but we only had 4 pounds and 43 pence…. Turns out that’s not enough at most supermarkets (we tried four). Finally we tried the Eastern European mini mart and found a Cabernet Sauvignon from Bulgaria for 3 pounds 99 pence!! Who would have thought!! And it’s not too bad either!

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Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there – and of course in particular to my dad, Dans dad, and my grandpa! We hope you have a great day.

More blogs to come once we sort out the wifi issues!


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One month to go!!

It is officially one month until we jump on a plane, with a one way ticket to Rome!!

I’ve handed in my resignation at work, had my UK working visa approved and returned, started to pack up our things at home and organised leaving drinks, dinners etc. The festival of Lisa and Dan leaving has officially started!!

Most of our 2 month holiday is now organised, my amazing parents have given me the BEST GPS (Garmin 3450LMT) with Europe maps on it so we won’t get lost driving around. We’ve also bought paper maps and have got our international driving licences sorted.

We’ve applied for UK bank accounts with HSBC, both have shiny new passports, and organised many other little bits and pieces. So it is now, finally, starting to feel real.

I’ve said to a few people recently that my head has been in two very different places over the last few months. On the one hand, I’m so excited about going to Europe and getting settled in London. Very ready for that.

On the other hand, I have not at all come to grips with the fact that I’m leaving my job, leaving my friends, family and the city I’ve grown up in. These two different head spaces have not yet collided, but I’m sure they will soon.  But on balance, I’m super excited.

In just over three weeks I’ll be unemployed for the first time in 15 years, but as the saying on my fridge magnet that my lovely friend Sharyn gave me says, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.  So here goes!

I’m going to share this post with my friends and family now, so please sign up to follow my posts so you can keep up to date with how we’re going, what we’re seeing and who we’re meeting! I’ll try to post updates as regularly as possible without of course distracting from the main game – immersing ourselves in European culture and daily life.

While we’re away I’d love to hear from you all anytime so please keep in touch – smlportion@gmail.com

Lisa x

life begins goa