Second Time Living in London – First 90 Days!

It’s absolutely flying! The first 90 days! Zooooooooom! So much has happened already and there’s so many more exciting adventures planned!

One way ticket purchase (while still in Melbourne…)

It was a Saturday and Harry and I were off to our first travel expo to see if we could snag some cheap flights. We came out winners! Not only did we find well priced one way tickets to London, we scored a further discount by playing a game. This game involved standing in a glass box similar to a telephone box with a bunch of flying money and whatever you could catch in 20 seconds you had taken off your flight price! Harry totally owes me because I managed to catch much more than him. It might have had something to do with me stashing the notes in my bra mid way so that I had free hands to catch more!

Staying with friends in London

Fast forward a few months, I was sitting on my bag and trying to close it so I could fit all my essentials in to take to London with me. After weighing my bag it was time to let go to a few more things! To note – this was 6 hours before our flight. But we made it to the other side! Bags included. We were lucky enough to have friends to stay with this time. In fact, Harry and I, for our first few nights in London, stayed at the place that I used to live where he came to stay with me 2 years ago! De ja vu! I managed to get a cold and though feeling ill, I worked up the energy to go and look at share accommodation nearby as a potential place for us in London until we got settled. It was worth the effort as it was only sharing with another couple who were really friendly, we had our own bathroom, there was a balcony overlooking the park and it was within our budget. And we got offered the room! Sorted.

Harry had a music festival and networking event to attend in Brighton so after our first two nights in London we were on the train to Brighton. This time we stayed with Wendy (who I travelled to South Africa with) who very kindly offered us her room and slept on the couch! They had a few cats there so Harry and I were pretty content. For the next few days we stayed with some more friends. The job hunt was on so we took turns using the computer and got our hopes up each time the phone rang. The difficulty was that we were going to Morocco and France so were going to be away for two weeks and therefore unable to attend interviews. Actually what am I thinking, can’t really call that a ‘difficulty’ can I?

Morocco and France

For the next few weeks we enjoyed holidays in Morocco and France. Hopefully I’ve linked the blogs correctly so you can check them out if you haven’t already!

Moving into our new share accommodation – back in my old haunt

Thanks to securing a place before going to Brighton, we moved straight into our new place when we arrived back from France at about 1am. It was a nice feeling to have our own room to spread out in and unpack our bags! Speaking of which, our friend Hayley had been babysitting our large bags so thankfully we didn’t have to carry them around with us. So first thing in the morning we walked over to pick them up. We did all the fun shopping for things like coathangers and unpacked a bit at a time. We were in my old neighbourhood so comfort zone for me!

First day at new job – bank

As you would’ve read in my France blog, I had an interview over the phone while in France and got offered the job starting the day after I got back from holidays. So into the corporate attire I get and off to work! My job was in HR at a bank near Fleet Street so I instantly felt like I had stepped into a game of Monopoly. It was a 3 month contract so I didn’t have to worry about looking for work for a short while.

Choir, open mic and my first gig!

My first gig!

My first gig!

Because I loved choir so much in Melbourne, I was determined to find an awesome choir in London. After a bit of research and attending one of the choir nights to try it out, I was hooked! It was a big company and had a different choir group each night of the week at a different location, ranging from 30 people to over 100 people. Everyone was so friendly and over the 6 week term we had a set of songs sounding really great! Ready for our big performance. We performed at a place in Brixton and when the choir finished, I played a few solo acoustic tunes on the guitar. A cover and an original. Had so much fun! With a choir in the audience the harmonies are lovely! And I had lots of nice compliments afterwards to help boost the confidence.

Another gig recently was my own! I somehow got the courage to perform my first set of more than half an hour at a pub in central London. I played 4 originals and 4 covers and the guy running it kindly gave us drinks and food in return. It was a really fun night and my friend Oli came along to play too. I’ve written a new song to share at the next one!

Kiwis in London parties

For some reason I’ve been to two Kiwis in London parties and not one Aussies in London party. They’re just more fun-looking and inviting! And they have TravelTalk there with 50 – 60% off tours. At the first KIL party I went to, I booked a trip to Turkey. At the second KIL party, I booked a trip to Russia for Christmas! So stay tuned for those blogs!

Bungee jumping in Brighton

Lovers Leap in Brighton

Lovers Leap in Brighton

For my 30th while we were back in Melbourne, Harry bought me a voucher to go bungee jumping in Brighton. Which is pretty funny because I’ve been twice, but he’s never been. Was the present really for me? Haha. We had a great time. It was a tandem bungee! Because we were jumping from a crane, there was limited space in the box so we had to get up close and personal (big hug with heads side by side to avoid clashing) while they rocked us out! Harry was brave and chose to be the person that went out backward. And despite my previous jumps I still screamed like a big girl. Fun!

It also happened to be Pina Colada Day so we had a free Pina Colada at Be At One in Brighton. Harry’s friends managed to get the night off work and let’s just say I woke up on their couch with my bag still on my shoulder.

Music and gigs

Hodes at Citadel Festival

Hodes at Citadel Festival

If you are in London over summer and you’re into live music, Somerset House is worth a visit. We got last minute tickets on the Twickets app to see Nick Mulvey there. He was amazing and we still enjoyed it despite the rain and umbrellas blocking the view now and then. We also went to Somerset House for a free lunch time acoustic gig in the same week.

On a Sunday in July we went to Citadel Festival at Victoria Park. It was the first time they held this festival and it is worth going again. My favourites were Ben Howard, Dan Croll, Rhodes, Bellatrix and Reeps One. They had a really cool stage set up in a quieter area behind the main stage that had we found it earlier, I may have plonked myself on one of their lounges and stayed there all day. Really cool vibe.

Merlin events – London Dungeon Lates Night and Outside In

The perks of Harry working in the events and entertainment industry is getting free tickets to different attractions. So far we have checked out the London Dungeon Lates night which included a Bloody Mary! I see the connection but damn how do you drink those things?! We were all made to wear silly hats and then scared silly by the brilliant actors in each section of the Dungeon. The show was based on the story of Jack the Ripper in old London, how times have changed!

Outside In party buddies

Outside In party buddies

More recently we went to their Outside In event which was a charity fundraiser with a dj, photo booth, topless waiter, croquet, giant chess, magician and unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks for 15 quid. We were having a grand old time (particularly me owning the dancefloor) until we got evacuated because some baboon broke the glass of the red fire alarm that you only break in case of emergency. Lucky it was towards the end of the event and in a way we should all be thankful for less of a sore head the next morning.

Health in London

The Heathrow Injection is real. I experienced it the first time around. This time Harry and I have been running, cooking our own meals and I’ve even been to yoga a few times! Anyone who knows me from living in London a few years ago knows that this is a major achievement, considering I cooked for myself twice in a period of 10 months! It’s probably because Harry loves Asda and grocery shopping which is part of the battle for me!

Job number 2 – wine company

So eventually I needed to start looking for my next job, knowing I was on a fixed-term contract. Lucky for me after a first and second round interview I was offered a permanent role with a wine company in a Senior HR role. It is based in the lovely Primrose Hill area. I’ve been for a walk at lunchtime a few times for exercise but also to appreciate the view of London city at the top. People like Kate Moss and Sadie Frost are often seen in the nearby nail salons and coffee shops but you will find me at the coffee shop with the 13 year old Scottish terrier called Dolly who waddles over and sits on my foot as I order my coffee. Bliss.

Eagle Heights – camping with Huskies!

Hanging with Alpha

Hanging with Alpha

Ya gotta love Groupon – right? Harry found a Groupon to go and camp with husky dogs about an hour out of London. We booked it in and had such a great time. Even the trip there from the station was interesting. Picture us trying to follow Google maps, with pink pillows and bags in our hands, walking in one direction until finally the arrow showed that we were going in the wrong direction. Once we were finally heading in the right direction a lady asked us if we were lost and it turned out that she was a taxi driver! So 5.50 quid to drive us up the road. And while that sounds like a short drive, it was long and the hill was steep. So it was 5.50 quid well spent.

They have the most amazing owls, eagles and other birds there including kookaburras as well as the very gorgeous huskies. We set up the tent, had a short road trip with a local to buy some more alcohol and then had our own private tour to see all the animals as a group after it had closed to the public.

Camping with huskies at Eagle Heights

Camping with huskies at Eagle Heights

After the tour we brought out our snacks to share and instantly made friends with two ladies of which one has invited us to stay with her outside of London in the countryside somewhere. Might have to take up her offer! The huskies joined us and the bbq was on its way. We enjoyed a few burgers then moved the party back up to the campsite. The huskies were able to run free in this area with us and when the sun went down we had the campfire ready to keep us warm and light up the area. We slept surprisingly well in the tent and with the rain on its way mid-morning, we packed up quickly and made our way back to the train station. Unfortunately the rain beat us and despite having one umbrella, it wasn’t enough for both of us and we arrived at the station quite soaked. We were pretty happy to make it back to London for a hot shower!

Finding longer term accommodation – West Hampstead

While we were lucky to find a place to live initially, it was a short term arrangement as the room is really for one person and not a couple! So the house hunt was on. At one point we felt like that couple in a movie where they’re on a tight budget and they go to look at an apartment that’s falling apart but they’re still considering taking it! It’s tough! We looked at about four places that we knew instantly that we didn’t want it or had reservations about it. Until lucky number five! Good location and easy to get to work – tick. Garden, living room and large bedroom – tick. Nice housemates – tick. Clean and tidy – tick. Only sharing the bathroom with one other – tick. Park across the road and lots of restaurants and pubs closeby – tick. Ooh and within our budget – TICK! Winner!!! Long-term accommodation in London sorted. THANK GOD.

Stonehenge, Bath and Somerset

Scone anyone?

Scone anyone?

It was our 1.5 year anniversary so I bought us a day trip to Stonehenge, Bath and Somerset to celebrate. First stop was Bath. We found the Pump Room Restaurant which was a bit fancy so we had scones to match the scenery. There was an orchestra to set the mood even further. The main water fountain from the old Roman baths comes up into this restaurant and you can ask for a glass of it. Back in the day, rich London families travelled to Bath to drink the water because it was supposed to have healing powers. We both had a go and think it tastes nasty. It comes from the natural mineral springs.

From the fancy pants restaurant we went to TKMaxx to see what fashions and sizes they had that London didn’t. We each walked out with a purchase. But we’re in Bath so off to explore we go. We visited the Royal Crescent and other main tourist areas and then explored some of the backstreets to get a more local feel. Definitely worth staying a weekend!

Hoff to explore Stonehenge

Hoff to explore Stonehenge

Stonehenge was our favourite part of the day, getting to see the stones up close and hear about their story. There was a slaughter stone that had lots of crows hanging around! More than anywhere else at Stonehenge so that was kind of creepy! There was also a circular ditch around the stones where many years ago they found the remains of people and animals. There is speculation that it was a burial ground in its early beginnings, which goes back further than the Pyramids in Egypt.

Date night – boat ride, picnic at Greenwich where ‘Meantime’ comes from & cable car adventures!

Harry told me where to meet him after work and that was all the information I had. I was presented with a Paddington Bear toy because I loved the movie so much, an umbrella because I’m hopeless and haven’t bought one yet, and some white chocolate because it is my favourite. And just when you think he couldn’t get any sweeter, he bought us tickets for the boat and we were off to Greenwich for a picnic!

Greenwich Meantime picnic

Greenwich Meantime picnic

The picnic spread was grand! Even Paddington Bear had to help us eat it all! We waddled around Greenwich and agreed that we needed to come back to explore more another time. As there was a tube strike, and we knew the cable cars were only open until a certain time, we made our way to the DLR train. It was a bit of a mission to get to the cable cars but timing was on our side. Then! We got to the cable cars to find that they were free and running later tonight because of the tube strike! Which was a complete win for us because we were going there anyway. The cable car ride took about 10 minutes and we had amazing views of the O2, Canary Wharf and the city in general. Recommended. Successful date night.

That is all for now! This weekend we’re off to Amsterdam!

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  1. Pingback: London, 90 days on | Hoff to Explore November 29, 2015