Saturday, 31 December 2011

Bye bye 2011

The last few days have been quite uneventful. We met up with the bf's dad and stepmom a few times. Usually to eat. They didn't really want to visit any tourist things (lots of them were closed anyway). So instead we had a lot of good food. Not complaining there. Time at home I mainly spend reading and watching movies. Great and relaxing.
So today it's the last day of the year and I think it's time to look at last year's resolutions and see how I've done:

  1. Drop ten kilos by the end of the year (preferably not gain any back over Christmas). Surprise surprise this happened! Well, not the last bit. I dropped 12 kilos, but gained 3 back during the holidays. But I am back on healthy eating tomorrow so not worried at all.
  2. Read at least one book a month for pleasure (doesn't count if it's for study). Easy peasy.
  3. Regularly update Goodreads.Done!
  4. Get a haircut at least twice a year (yeah, that's a LOT for me) and make it short.  Done two by May! But none since. Bad me! Might get a cut in January.
  5. Try to eat at least one piece of fruit a day. This has not happened since I switched to a diet back in October that avoids fruit. But I eat loads of fresh vegetables.
  6. Go one week without carbohydrates (bf swears on this so let's try it out). I never did a whole week, but basically do six days of it and then an indulgence day on number 7.
  7. Go out for drinks to a new place at least once a month. I think I managed this. Was not really counting though.
  8. Go to at least six new and exciting dinner places during the year. I thought I would totally fail on this, but since the bf's dad took us out three times this week I managed! LOL.
  9. Go out at least twice a month and ignore work/study for those nights. I meet people from uni about twice a month for drinks/bookclub. So to my own surprise I managed to do this.
  10. Go running once a week. FAIL!
  11. Have a detox day once a month. Fail. Though I feel with the diet I switched to it's really unnecessary. Though what I did do I stocked up on bath bombs, so now will try to have a nice relaxing bath about once a month.
  12. Cook at least two times a week.Bf complains I didn't do it, but I think I tried hard. Though I do make him cook more than me. He's just better at it.
  13. Go to the movies at least six times. Win, Win (May), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, 50/50, Breaking Dawn. Two missing. Darn.
  14. Watch at least four Studio Ghibli movies that I haven't seen yet. My Neighbour Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies. I recorded some on our new TV. Now just need to watch them. But yeah, FAIL!
  15. Use up all the tea in the kitchen before buying any new ones (except my daily dose of green tea. Cannot live without that. But all the 'fun' ones have to go before stocking up again). Fail, I tossed all the ones out when we moved that I knew I wouldn't be drinking anymore.
  16. Go through the whole wardrobe and throw out what I haven't worn for a year or doesn't fit/isn't comfy/looks horrible. Yes! But I kept some things, maybe will have to do it again... Did it again while moving. Tossed out so many clothes mainly due to no storage to keep them. Am very proud of myself.
  17. Buy one pair of shoes that looks good with skirts. And maybe buy a new pencil skirt. I bought some new sandals, which look really nice with skirts. And now also some heels for the winter. Still hard to walk in but at least they look decent.
  18. Smile when somebody wants to take a photograph of me (instead of yelling at them). Yeah, this worked out good for me. Bf complains I don't let him take pictures of me. Which is not true. I don't have any images of him because he keeps hiding from the camera...
  19. Buy a wrist watch. Done! See here...
  20. Reply to messages within three days. No delays allowed. Yes, waiting three months is too long. Sigh, I am still very bad at this. Though got a bit better.
  21. Go on chat/messenger programmes at least twice a week to stay in touch with friends. Still not big at going on messenger. I even turned off the facebook one.
  22. Start an address book and update it regularly.Fail. Though I still would like to do it. I did find my old one. But it's not up-to-date.
  23. Do not just get any job when graduating. It has to be a publishing job. Done, done, done!!!
  24. Put away money once I got a job for a trip to Japan. Working on it. We want to book in a few weeks. I got enough for the flight, now need to save for the money I will need there.
  25. Do the Japanese homework every week for term 2 and 3 and study for half an hour a week on top of the homework. Let's not talk about this...
  26. Finish Japanese for Busy People I and work through half of Japanese for Busy People II. I had high hopes for this to do it in between uni and job starting. But then I started work before I even finished uni, so yeah, that didn't happen....
So there are many things I haven't quite accomplished what I set out to do. But on others things I think I have done rather well. I want to do some New Years resolutions for 2012. Need to have a think about what I want to achieve next year and what to concentrate on and then I will put it up.
Until then... Everyone have a great start to 2012! It can only get better...

Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Christmas

I know I said that I would probably not get into the whole Christmas spirit this year, but to my own surprise, I was wrong. I met up with a friend of mine at Borough market on the 23rd. I wanted to buy some nice sweets for Christmas Eve. I had planned to make our own Christmas Tea. Boy, the selection was amazing and I had a hard time choosing, but in the end I think I did get some nice pieces.

The market is really not that big, but it was super crowded and we were exhausted after navigating it for about an hour. So we decided to grab some tea. We ended up also sharing a cupcake because looking at all the sweets made us hungry!

Look at the size of this cupcake!
The cupcake was actually not that good. The icing was more like a butter cream. It tasted ok, but was totally not what we expected.

Christmas Eve was a quiet day for us. We headed out in the morning to buy some groceries we still needed and some more plates and glasses. As my bf's dad and stepmom are in London over the holidays we needed more than just the two plates we used to have. Luckily the store still had the same plates we bought in October. They were on sale then, but still had some left so were even cheaper now. Score! I think we paid a pound per plate. Also picked up some wine glasses.

So this is our nice Christmas tea that we had in the afternoon. Some nice scones with clotted brandy butter and raspberry jam and some sweets (Baileys and chocolate cheesecake, marble cake, chocolate eclair and those two Portuguese sweets filled with custards). And no, we couldn't finish it all. We saved some and had it for dessert in the evening. But it was amazing! I really liked the brandy butter. Might have to stock up on that before it goes out of season.

The next way was spent preparing for the bf's dad to come. We pre-cooked a steak and ale stew and pre-boiled some potatoes to roast later in the evening. In the afternoon we headed out to pick them up at their hotel. Because no public transport was running in London we walked. It was actually a pretty nice walk. Not a lot of people out. The wind was chilly, but walking kept us warm. Only took us a bit over an hour and we didn't hurry or anything. Their hotel turned out to be pretty nice. We stayed for about half an hour and then ordered a cab.

Once home we started cooking again. Made roast potatoes, reheated the stew, made some brussels sprouts and some salmon. Boy, that was an amazing dinner. I forgot to take pictures, but all the dishes turned our really nicely. As a started we had ciabatta bread with roasted aubergines dipped in olive oil, vinegar and some herbs. Amazing! We need to host more dinner parties. So much fun! Then we had some wine and beer. And coffee as a dessert. Nothing else because we were stuffed! It was a really lovely evening.

His dad is into photography and he gave us some photos from home and now wants to buy us some frames and hang them up. That should be nice as our walls are empty at the moment.

I don't know. Sitting together and sharing a meal really made Christmas feel like Christmas. It's a shame we didn't have candles or decorations. I will definitely remedy that the next time we have a Christmas at home.

Hope everyone else had a nice Christmas as well. Here's to a good New Year!!!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Whoopie Pies

This week I had my last day of work before the new year. What I didn't expect, but what I thought was really lovely, was my boss giving all of us home-made truffles. They were soooo delicious!

My company also had a little 'Christmas market', where they sold of some books, cakes and other stuff for charity. I couldn't stop myself from buying two whoopie pies. And they had red sparkle on top of them! Very delicious.

On a different note. TFL (transport for London) has just sent around it's holiday schedule, or should I say lack of it. I thought on Christmas Day it was only the tubes that weren't going anywhere. But apparently it's also the buses that are not going. No public transport at all. Not ideal since we want to go meet my bf Dad and stepmom at their hotel I guess we will tell them that sight-seeing is out of the question on that day. We can try to find food. But that's it. We agreed that we would walk to the hotel and then splurge on a cab ride back home. Because they are not gonna rip us off at all if no public transport is available. The joys of Christmas...

Monday, 19 December 2011

Things that only ever happen to other people

You know those things you read about in the newspapers so you know they are real, but they feel really distant because they only ever happen to other people. And usually people you don't know. There can be really cool things like winning the lottery (and I don't mean winning a fiver, I mean winning BIG). Winning the lottery is a great concept. I never buy tickets, because I don't know anyone who has ever won, and it is almost like a fairy tale. It's not really something that can happen.

Other things I am really glad that they never happened to anyone I know. For example my parents got new neighbours since last year. I never met them. They have started a family this year, but their baby girl was born premature and ended up catching an infection. She died soon after. But because I have never met her or her parents it felt like a world away and did not have a big impact.

Well no more. Last weekend my family joined the statistics and we are no longer one of the families were things don't happen. Of course I wish we still were, but that is not how life works out, is it. Last weekend one of my baby nephews died. One minute his heart was beating, the next it wasn't. Paramedics were doing their best to bring him back, which they managed for awhile, but his heart was not strong enough and he didn't last the night.

This was a week ago. We still don't know what happened. Apparently it's just one of those things that can happen while babies are young and still vulnerable. He will be released from hospital on Tuesday. After much cutting and slicing apparently the doctors still couldn't figure out what was wrong. My sister will have a memorial service for him that day. And then he will be cremated on Thursday and be taken home. My sister was too scared of putting him into a tiny casket. 

I have no idea how she and her husband are holding up. My mom and brother spend the last weekend with them. And my ten year old nephew, who was present when it all happened and is very much a bit traumatised, is being handed around to be taken care of while my sister and her husband have made the arrangement. Which just all sounds so WRONG! You do that for older people. When we did all that for my grandma we were sad and mourning, but also very accepting. She was old, and at some point we all have to leave. But why did my little nephew have to leave at six weeks old? That's just not fair.

My sister-in-law and brother are also freaking out a bit. Their son is just a day older than my other nephew. Now they are very scared that at some point he might just stop breathing too.

So yeah, the Christmas spirit is running high in our households at the moment. I am still not going home for the holidays. I spoke to my sister for a long time and she prefers there to be less people. I feel a bit like a traitor for not being there. Then again, I am secretly glad, because I hate funerals and they do nothing for me (except wanting to punch the ministers in the face for saying stupid stuff like 'we should just be thankful for the time we were given'). So I will be on phone duty for the next weeks to lend an ear whenever my sister wants to talk. I think for her it's actually easier to do it on the phone than in person. Though I really don't do any talking. What should I say? It will all be better? BS. 

Sorry for a depressing post. I was thinking a long time about whether I should post about this. But in the end decided that I would. Though I think this might be the only post. So don't think I am a cruel person when the next post will be about baking and fairy lights (it won't). That's just me trying to get back to some kind of normality. Though it's scary how much my house is still 'normal' while my sisters is completely broken. And I cannot explain to her why this has happened to her. Not that I would wish this onto anyone else. I think we are all just struggling with the not knowing how or why it happened.

So this year Christmas will probably be the most depressing one in our lives. I am actually very happy now that I went home for a week in November. At least I met my nephew before he left us. So please everyone remember, tell all your loved ones how much you love them today, because tomorrow might hold surprises we are not quite prepared for.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Advent Calendars

When I was in Germany this year I picked up these niffty postard advent calendars. Of course I didn't post them to anyone but brought them home. The top one is mine and the bottom one is for the bf.

The colours look a little bleached out in these pictures. They are much stronger. I love them both though. I like the classical colours and image in the first. And I like the warmness of the colours and image in the bottom one. Will have to get somebody to send me some for next year!


Yesterday, 6 December, was Nikolaus. I am not sure how many countries actually celebrate Nikolaus, but in Germany when we were kids it was a big deal. I almost liked it more than Christmas. The night before we would bake these breadmen (Stutenkerle) and would be allowed to decorate them ourselves. We could even choose what to make (boy or girl).

Then we would put out special plates (some people put out boots) onto the windowsill so the Nikolaus could leave us presents and candy.

The next morning the plates would have our Stutenkerl on it, plus some clementines, nuts and some chocolates. We all got a little present, usually a book or a tape. We would be lighting candles and then all have breakfast together. And since it was winter and still dark outside it was always such a nice and calm atmosphere. Yes then we had to go to school. But the Nikolaus days that happened to be on a weekend became even more special then. And we would all go out for walks and do things as a family.

So on Monday I slaved away in my kitchen to produce these:

Big Stutenkerl for work.

Got a new brush on the weekend. I love how it's silicone and sooo easy to clean.

Little one for the bf.

And this one is for me.

Size comparison. The big one looks small, but it was much bigger than the others!

So yay me. Now I finally feel in the right mood for Christmas! Gonna order my bf Christmas presents on the weekend and then I am all done! Hurray! Oh and maybe I will get some decorations. This house is a bit blank at the moment.

So happy belated Nikolaus everyone!

Weekend filled with Christmas stuff

This Saturday I decided that I wanted to go see the German Christmas market at the South Bank. We left the house early and since the weather was nice decided to walk all the way there. We stopped at a little café for some breakfast and then headed towards the London Eye.
We stopped by St. Pancras where they had a huge Christmas tree made entirely out of Lego!

Isn't it gorgeous?! My photos really don't do it any justice. Anyway we kept heading towards the Eye though we didn't go a direct path. On our way we discovered a little outside shopping mall. We might go back sometime soon because it was just too lovely, but we didn't have that much time to linger.

We made it to the Christmas market really early and sat down to a cup of mulled wine. It tastes soooo much better at the market than anywhere else. I find British pubs tend to water down the wine and all you taste is spice. But this one was really good and strong. Yay!

We had then planned to go to a German pub to eat lunch, but it was not open when we got there. So we headed back and found a nice burger place for lunch. We also stopped at a camera place and inspected the camera I keep thinking of buying. It's even more lovely than I thought it would be. So I will deffo buy it, just might wait till after Christmas. Or not...

I also need to make a decision on whether I want the bf to buy me a Kindle for Christmas or a Kobo Touch. I just cannot make up my mind. There are so many things going right for either one of them. Darn. Not good at making decisions, but bf refuses to make the decision for me. I figure I will make up my mind before or on the weekend. Or not. I actually already made up my mind about three times and always changed it again... Stupid me. Anyone has opinions on which one they prefer?
Ok, back to internet research on ereaders.

Monday, 5 December 2011

It's almost winter

I wanted to do a real post, but instead I got to play around with the background and colours. I wanted to give it a more winter/Christmas feel. I don't feel like winter at all yet. Mainly because it's not really cold. The last few weeks it has been really mild. I think it might get a bit colder this week. Let's hope so. I really want to get into the right mood before Christmas hits.

Anyway, will try to post about my weekend later! Everyone have a happy Monday ;-)

Friday, 2 December 2011


Oh you are in luck. We took a team photo on the last day of Movember with all our glorious moustaches! Now, no making fun, but this is me if I could grow a stache:

End laughter.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

November is out

So everything in our flat got fixed but the roof issue. Thankfully it's not raining that much at the moment so it only leaked once more. Apparently today people will be climbing up the roof today with fancy new electronic equipment to find the leak. Uhm, ok whatever they say. Just fixed the damn leak. Honestly, I don't see how this has priority. It's raining into your building. The ceiling has water marks now and is wet. I'm no builder, but clearly that can't be good.

Anyway, on to nicer things. The month of November is over now. The boys at work did all grew moustaches and had us sponsor them. We all met up for a last great group photo and us girls put on some fake staches as well. Mine can be seen below. Sorry, no on the face shot, I looked like an idiot. Maybe for the Christmas party where I plan to wear it again as I am going as an old man...

The weekend was great. I went out for breakfast with the bf. We actually had a pre-breakfast breakfast as he forced me to leave the house so early that our chosen place was still closed. So we went into Paul's and had a croissant and mocha.

After that we went over to a lovely breakfast place and I had the Lumberjack Stack: pancake, French toast and waffles served with maple syrup. Delicious! But definitely sugar overload. Then we went to see 50/50. Oh boy, I thought I went to see a comedy. The film was brilliant, but made me cry all over the place. 

After that I headed to lunch with a friend at a fancy Japanese place. And by fancy I mean they had projectors on top of the tables and you had to order from a projected menu. The food was actually shown on your plate. It was cool, but also overpriced. 

And then stupid us went to Oxford Street. Which was packed! I took some photos of the Christmas decorations, but they are really blurry. Will do better next time!

And now it's back to working. Boo. I wish weekends were longer... Maybe one more day, that's all I'm asking...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Morning Rant

Argh, I am so annoyed at the moment (and freezing cold, why? later). Yesterday I got into work late because I had the plumber and construction people come into our flat to fix things. The central heating didn't work, water leaked through the ceiling in the bathroom and the cold water pipe in the shower was leaking. Plus our chain at the front door is broken and should have been fixed weeks ago, but it never happened.
So yesterday they showed up at 7.30am. Which was fine. But then they stayed way too long to get everything done and I left late for work. Which already annoyed me a bit, because it should not be my responsibility to give them access to the flat. The landlord or building manager should provide that. But anyway, the guys made a big mess in my bathroom. Took down all the shower fixings, messed about with the heaters and the boiler. And when they left they said it was fixed. The heaters were heating etc.

But big surprise this morning, the boiling had shut off again, this time with a different error message. And this time we could not restart it. It seems dead in the water. So now I had to take a shower with cold water. Shit, was that cold. I am still freezing. I kept blow drying my hair and my body afterwards, but I am still COLD! Bf will call the landlord/building manager and yell at them. Honestly if this is not fixed soon and the boiler keeps breaking I am considering not paying rent until it is fixed. This is now becoming ridiculous. It's almost winter, and there is NO way I am going through that without heating and hot water. NO WAY!

Plus of course I won't know if they fixed the leak on the roof until it rains heavily the next time. Oh, and contractor guy said that it's leaking in our neighbours flat too. Great, that does not make me feel any better. Au contraire, does that mean the whole roof is shit and we will have MORE leaks? Thank god I am only renting this place. Can move out whenever I want to (but I do like it. I want to use the balcony in the summer). Damn. 

Ok gotta go to work. Will walk at an extra quick pace to finally get some warmth back into my feet. COLD!

End rant.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Leaking ceiling

So I am back from Germany. I had a great time. On the weekends I was at my sister's place in Hamburg. And I met my nephews. They are both adorable! Though very different. One of them is pretty big, has red/blonde hair. You can hardly see his eyebrows and lashes. But his head is so big! The other one is tiny. Had full black hair and long eyelashes. His face and everything is really tiny. Both of them were pretty much eating, sleeping, crying. Maybe next time when I see them, around Easter, they will be more aware of their environment. So excited!

During the week I was at my parents place. Went to the dentist. All is well. Yay! And I met up with a lot of friends from high school. We will have our 10th year reunion next year. Originally I couldn't care less about it. But now it seems like one of my friends will be organising it, and most of my friends will attend. So I might go after all. Just because it would be such a great opportunity to meet them all at the same time. This might mean that I will be going back to Germany three times in three months next year. Easter in April, a friends wedding in May and the reunion in June. Uh oh. That will blow a whole into my bank account. Thank god for Ryanair. So I guess the Japan trip will have to be in the Fall. No way I can squeeze that into spring as well. And I want to avoid going in the summer. I don't much enjoy the summer heat. But we will see. I just found out about the reunion and the wedding in the last week. Will have a think about it over Christmas.

Anyway, I came back Sunday late evening. That was a bad idea. I was so tired all week at work. But I made it through somehow. Was super busy catching up on last week. But wasn't really motivated. Especially because next week a lot of my colleagues will be either on holiday or work trips and I have to take care of their emails. Boo. On top of catching up. Well, it's Christmas soon(ish) and I will be off for almost two weeks then. Cannot wait!

In other news... There are really no other news. I still love our new flat. Though we discovered a few problems that we have to call our landlord about next week. It rained heavily tonight and in the morning we discovered that some water had leaked through the bathroom ceiling. Not a lot. But they better check that out (since it NEVER rains in England I am sure it won't be a problem). The other thing is our boiler. So far we only had the hot water on. But now it's gotten colder so I switched the central heating on. But then the boiler heats for about ten minutes and then shuts down with an error message saying it's over heating. That can't be good. Let's hope someone can fix that before it gets really cold. The other thing is that one of the pipes in the shower is leaking. Not a lot, but still I want to get that fixed before it turns into a bigger problem.

Even though those problems are annoying I think they can be forgiven. It's a new place so there are bound to be things that are not working. But eventually everything will be tuned and then it will be a gorgeous flat.

Which is why I will leave you with photos taken from my balcony yesterday. Enjoy the London dusk:


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Kew Gardens

A couple of weekends ago I went to Kew Gardens with a friend. I had been planning to go since I moved over to London three years ago. But somehow it never happened.

But now finally I made it on a glorious autumn day. Enjoy the photos:

 The Pagoda was very fascinating. I took many pictures of it.

 They had a little forest of redwood trees. They were huge, but apparently they weren't even half the size of the biggest ones ever found. That is just crazy!

 Pagoda from afar. There were big 'lanes' running through Kew where you could walk across and watch tree. I love trees. It was so great to be in such a green place in the middle of London. The only annoying thing were the planes heading for Heathrow. They fly really low and are very loud.

 Biggest surviving Victorian glasshouse structure. It looks beautiful. I took this photo from the treetops on the tree walk. Yes, they have a walk inside the treetops. It was amazing! And a little shaky...

 Banana palm. I used to have one. Much smaller though.

 Star fruit. 

 Bonsai. This was hidden away in the garden behind some research buildings. The map they give you is a bit crap.

I was very glad that I went. I might have to do it again in spring. Though autumn was really nice with the trees in glorious colours.

Friday, 28 October 2011

New place

We are in our new flat! And the internet/phone/TV situation is sorted. Was actually very quick and efficient. I am mighty impressed.

I managed to take some pictures. They are not the greatest quality, but here it goes:

Our kitchen. I tried not to take a picture of the counters because they are still packed with stuff.

Our bathroom. It's an actual room!

Bedroom. Messy, but I cleaned it up after this.

View of the balcony. It was pouring down rain when I took the pic.

Living room. The kitchen and living room are actually the same room, but it's really long.

So there you have it. Nothing spectacular, but I love it! Have been in it for only a few days now, but it is already home. I love all the space we have. The first night was a bit weird, but now it's all good.

Friday, 21 October 2011

1 boy + 1 boy = double auntie!

I forgot whether I mentioned that I will be going home in November in order to see my new nephews. I booked this flight a couple of months ago and placed it safely more than two weeks after the due dates (which were only two days apart) so I would not miss one of the babies. This is one for my sister one for my brother.

My sister in law had her little boy two days ago. All went well, he came in the middle of the night and she and my brother are happy first time parents. Who cannot agree on the name. I think they have to decide within one week otherwise the state will give the baby a name. Uh oh, excited how that will turn out!

And then yesterday my sister went into hospital and had a baby boy. She had to have a c-section, which we were all expecting since she had to have one with my first nephew as her hips are very tiny, but the baby was big, especially the head. But all is well and that little bugger actually has a name: Emil. Which I love, love, love.

They are in the same hospital on the same floor. They also live very close together in the city. Those little boys might end up growing up more like brothers than cousins.

So yay, the little buggers are there. Which means when I get there in two weeks time everyone will be settled in at home and I can enjoy my two new nephews!

And now I have to go to work. Booooo....

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Where is my free time?

I am free!!! Or so I thought when I handed in my thesis at the end of September. I spent most of September, especially my precious weekends, polishing the thesis of (well writing it) and handed it in on the 30th. I took the day off work because the uni office opening hours didn't allow me to pop in before and after. So I spent my day picking up the thesis from the printer, together with another girl from my course. We ended up returning all our library books (yay) and then turning in the diss. Finally!!! It was actually pretty unspectacular. We didn't even get a receipt. Nothing. Ah well, it's gone, that's all that matters.

Then we went for a nice lunch with another friend who we met at the office. I guess we weren't the only once turning in our papers on the last possible day. We went to a nice Japanese place and had a lunch set. After we went for ice cream and some shopping.

I had to leave them for a bit then because I had an appointment at a real estate agent. We finally found a flat to rent we liked and went in to sign the contract! So that has been eating up my 'free' weekends. We have been moving stuff the last couple of weeks. This weekend we are taking a break (bf has to work). But next weekend we will properly move. We will have to bring over the rest of our stuff and properly set up. I took of a day to get the BT and Virgin Media guys into the flat to get connected to phone/broadband/TV.

I am VERY excited about this flat. It is new (the whole building is). So nobody has lived there before us. We have a proper sized bathroom with a bathtub (I don't really like to take baths, but am excited nonetheless). We have a balcony, a proper sized bedroom. We have double-glazed windows (score), we have a couch! The kitchen/living room is one big living space. But I love that. Makes the flat look much bigger than it is. Plus, it means bf cannot hide away in one room. We still get to spend time together.

We still have to buy some shelves for my massive book collection. Though I am getting rid of about half of them (breaks my heart, but what can you do). This also made the need for an ebook reader much more apparent. Though I still cannot decide which one I want. Well, don't have money at the moment anyway, so I guess I will figure it out later.

Anyway, just wanted to write this quick update. I am not dead, just massively busy. But hopefully in two weeks that will all stop and I will be settling into a brand new flat with free weekends (soooooooooooooo excited!).

Until then... Let's pack some more boxes!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Taking a royal dump

This last weekend was another weekend of diss work and culture. The Saturday was spent holed up in the British Library working hard. I am getting ever closer to the finish line. Hurray!

The Sunday in contrast was spent at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. My bf had got some tickets for an all day event. Before we hit that we went out for brunch. We went into a hotel because we wanted to avoid the tourists that usually walk around the Covent Garden area. Gosh, the brunch was sooo nice. Came with real bread, eggs, ham, smoked bacon, cheeses, as much coffee and juice as we liked. I went for the carrot juice, and they actually made it fresh everytime I asked for a new one (I might have turned a bit orange at the end of the meal).

After we headed over to the opera. The event was a bit weird. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect since I didn't look it up. It ended up being a lot of installations. The room we spend most time in was showing recorded interviews with artist from around the world (and by that I mean mainly the US). They could talk about whatever they wanted it some were really hilarious. Then there was a live discussion in another room. Mainly about the internet and technological revolution. The organiser kept talking about how technology forces so many artists to work for free nowadays and how the old model of patronage is coming back. He kept banging on and on about that. It's not that I don't agree with him, but what he should have realised (since he was the organiser) is that this whole event was free and sponsored by a big company. Made everyone hide in their seats and I secretly thought that you couldn't get me to pay to see this. Know your audience, man!

So we kinda left them to rumble on by themselves. Next we headed up to the balcony. We had a really nice view over London. The Royal Opera House is right on the corner of Covent Garden Market. The weather was really bad, it kept raining hard. But luckily the balcony was completely covered with a roof.

Peeking down on London.

 Covent Garden Market

 Hardly anyone there because the rain was coming down hard. You can't really see it though. But on the left people are crossing the plaza with their umbrellas up.

On the left you can see the London Eye.
At 2pm we moved on to the best part of the day: A backstage tour of the opera. We weren't allowed to take a lot of pictures in most areas because they are moving in the costumes and stage parts for the new productions. We started off just outside the main rooms. Looking at old stage models. Then we moved on to the royal room. It's where the royal family waits and can go directly to their own box in the main area. The room itself was not very big. But looked grand. This is the only place where I was allowed to take photos:

Nice little chandelier anyone?

 The royal loo! Kid you not, this is their private toilet leading off through a 'hidden' door in their waiting room.

 Nice old clock.

View from the loo. It was very dark. They had heavy curtains in front of the windows.

After this we took a peak at the stage from the royal box. And then headed down into the many corridors running under the opera. Honestly you could get lost down their and never see the sun again. So glad we had a guide with us.

She led us to the back of the stage. That area is huge. The whole stage can be moved around, up and down. Apparently they are storing up to 16 productions there at the same time. The whole stage can be lowered or moved to the side. It's one huge lift.

Then we went up to the top floor to see the rooms where the ballet company practices. And we went by the rooms where the costumes are made. We couldn't go in though, which was a real shame. They had little windows in the doors, so we could take a peak, but that was about it.

That sadly concluded our tour. We decided to skip the rest of the art stuff and just head home. Walking around made us tired. So that was my exciting weekend. Really enjoyed it. Now not looking forward to this one because it's all gonna be work. Urgh.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Alphabet meme

My lovely friend tagged me in one of her memes, so I figured I better get it done and over with ;-)

A. Attached or single? Attached.

B. Best friend? Not at the moment...

C. Cake or pie? I have to choose!?!?

D. Day of choice? Saturday. I get to sleep in and get to do something fun in the evening.

F. Favorite color? Blue, orange, purple, yellow, green...

G. Gummy bears or worms? Bears!

H. Hometown? Mansie. Try to google that!

I. Indulgence? Food. Anything from soup, chips, sushi, chocolate, cookies, cake, hot chocolate... Though a daily one would be tea.

J. January or July? January. It's usually nice and quiet after all the Christmas stress and the year is still full of possibilities. July is usually just humid and annoying.

K. Kids? Nope.

L. Life isn’t complete without? Tea and a light breeze around me... (sea breeze that is).

M. Marriage date? Quoi? Does not apply.

N. Number of brothers & sisters? One brother, two sisters.

O. Oranges or apples? Apples. Because you can bake them!

P. Phobias? Spider and toilets...

Q. Quotes? Gah, I hate them. Please, no more.

R. Reasons to smile? New job! And hopefully soon a new apartment...

S. Season of choice? Autumn. Love the fresh air, the colours and my sweaters.

T. Tag seven peeps! Sorry, but that's not gonna happen. If you see this and want to join though, please link back! I would love to read it.

U. Unknown fact about me? I don't know if it's unknown, but I basically like every food and can never understand people who say they don't like something. I see how you can prefer some things, but not like something? Weird!

V. Vegetable? Pumpkin, squash, baby plum tomatoes, asparagus, green beans, broccoli...

W. Worst habits? Double and triple checking everything, e.g. before leaving the house in the morning I will check at least three times whether I packed my travelcard, wallet, keys and cell phone.

X. X-ray or ultrasound? If necessary ultrasound.

Y. Your favorite food? Bread in all it's varieties, bananas, sushi

Z. Zodiac sign? Taurus. I am said to be stubborn.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Rest of the Bank Holiday Weekend

Saturday I basically spend sleeping. God, I am really not used to staying up late anymore. I got to bed at 4am and only slept till about 8.30am. We went to Angel for lunch (burritos, nom nom nom) and looked around at some of the estate agent. With bf having his visa sorted it is now time to find a new place to live. Yay! Finally, we are going to move out of our studio apartment and will look for a 1 bedroom flat. Oh the luxury of having a bedroom AND a living room. Cannot wait!

Anyway, we noticed that it will be very expensive to get a nice flat in the areas we like. But screw it, I wanna live somewhere nice. So I think bf might start to look seriously at flats. I really don't have the time to help him yet. I am thinking October when I get this stupid dissertation done. Then I will have time to spend all my weekends flat hunting. Oh the possibility of not having to spend another winter in a flat with stupid windows that don't really shut! Honestly, I think windows are my top priority. I want double-glazed, please! There are other things, but that seems like such a basic thing to get right. And it will make such a big difference to whether we live in a wet, mouldy flat or a nice, dry and warm one.

I spent the afternoon napping and doing absolutely NOTHING. I was lovely! Sunday I had planned to work really hard on the dissertation. But because I tried doing it at home it was a major FAIL! I managed to type up two interviews, but that was about it.

So the next day I decided to join the boyfriend at his work (remember bank holiday, so we were basically the only people at his workplace). Oh man, it was brilliant. With absolutely no distraction I got so much done. Now I want him to take me there next weekend, but he flatly refused. He has his last day of work at the current place and won't be back for about 9 months because he's doing a secondment. Bad timing as I had just found my perfect workplace. I guess next weekend it will be back to the coffee houses and libraries of London. Urgh.

Well, the good part is that I can now see an end to this whole dissertation business. I will keep you updated ;-)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bank Holiday Weekend

This weekend was a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK. I love long weekends. It started great on Friday, which was the last day I was allowed to take summer hours and left work at 1pm. I went home, hung out a bit and had a nice lunch with my bf who had taken the day off work. He had spend the morning at the immigration office and got a new visa. He is now allowed to stay and work in the UK indefinitely. Yay! We celebrated a bit but then I had to leave for a birthday party.

It was at one of my favourite pubs. Waxy's Little Sister, right between Leicester Square and the main street through Chinatown. They have a little food lift in the middle of the pub where you can order drinks to the first floor without having to go downstairs. It was brilliant! I forgot to take a picture of it, but you can see it on their website. It's the wooden box thing on their bar. They also have a couple of fireplaces which was perfect as it was pouring down rain when I walked from the tube to the pub. My legs were soaked!

Of course, when we got hungry we made our way over to Chinatown and had some food. I was expecting to get something really greasy, but we managed to squeeze into a nice restaurant and had really good and healthy Chinese food (who ever heard of that). I didn't mind since I hadn't been drinking anyway.

After dinner a friend of mine and I slipped away to make our way down to the Globe Theatre to watch Shakespeare like it's meant to be. It was very exciting. We went to the midnight showing of 'As You Like It'. I had not seen the play before and really enjoyed it. The atmosphere was brilliant. They sold food and drinks outside the theatre. Our seats were all the way at the top in the last row. But we could see really well. I thought it was a bit irritating that they left the lights on full even during the play. It's just weird when the spectators boxes are illuminated during a performance. And I loved that all the windows that were in the staircase leading up to the floors didn't really have windows in them. The windows were holes in the wall. Loved it!

 View back into the audience. It looks really dark, but was not at all. I am just photographing against the light.

We were sitting on the side of the stage. I liked how the stage had it's own roof. Poor people standing in the middle of the theatre. No roof at all. Luckily it didn't rain. I completely forgot to take a picture of the middle bit.

Notice the people standing in front of the stage. They had to be there for almost THREE hours! Play started at midnight and we got out at 2.45am. Only a small break of ten minutes in between. Gosh was I glad that we paid more for seats!

Overall it was a great experience. In the three years I have been here I always wanted to go to the Globe but somehow just never made it. And I think the midnight showing is just such a great idea. It was great to walk through the city along the South Bank towards the cinema. The area is really cool. You can see all of the old buildings on the north side of the river that give way slowly to more modern buildings the further east you walk. It's just such a nice walk. And I love the smell and sound of the Thames. Need to remember to leave the house more often and do new things!