Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Local Discoveries (Balham).

Much to our great fortune (as I may have already mentioned) 
our stay in Balham has been extended until 
the end of the week, at which point we can move into our new place (Sunday).

As we continued to familiarize ourselves with the neighbourhood this week, 
we found two great spots worth mentioning 
 (should you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods).

Great coffee shop: M1LK , Balham

The Rundown: Excellent cakes, great coffee/tea, cute 'shabby chic' aesthetic

don't mind the half eaten cakes...that's how yummy they were (The Banana loaf had passion fruit in it- great combo!)

A cozy shelter from the storm.

Next up...

Excellent Tapas: The Fat Delicatessan

**Note: This cute spot functions as a deli and a restaurant, and from the street at night looks
closed, as the candlelit dinner tables are set back from the main window. VENTURE IN!

(Katie- this night brought back fond memories of overwhelming amounts of 'Jambon' in Barcelona...thought of your dad with the tomato bread also)

Charcuterie Board along with Manchego paired with Figs and an Almond Wheel
Pan Tumaca (Tomato Bread with Jamon Serrano) 

Patatas Bravas

I am a creature of habit.

We will be going back to both of 
these spots before we leave Balham.

...or else no. 319 Bus, will quickly become my new best friend!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Back to School.

My ever growing collection of left shoes....sigh

I woke up on Monday morning (yes, my first day of school) with a sore throat. I haven't been sick in over a year, so go figure. My primary theory is that as all the stresses of the last 6 months begin to ease off, I've started to relax (I know you don't believe me) and let my guard down (and the virus attacks). Theory number two is simply too much drinking, and too little sleep (you decide).

Back to Monday morning. Pouring rain. I hear you saying, "What did you think you'd get? You moved to London, you idiot!". No seriously, four people died on Monday. S read it on the front of the metro. It was driving rain, sideways, inverting the umbrella (not my blue umbrella- it's the latest in 'brolly' technology). So I arrived at school with a soggy right sock, and frizzy hair (on the plus, my cheeks were flush, like the lovely new English Rose that I plan on transforming myself into).

Luckily, it was an International Student info session, and the rest of the 'newbies' resembled drowned rats also. I met a friend. She is from Argentina (and has a normal haircut...not that I'm judging).

Today we were shown our studio space for the year. All full time students get a studio space. There are only two of us. We were shocked. I guess a few are MIA, and one is detained at the border with visa related issues, so myself and R from Hong Kong will be sharing this entire floor, until someone arrives and kicks us out. It's bright and lovely (and supposedly will be cozy once they get the heat fixed in the building).

R and I decided we didn't make the greatest first impression. We sat with the director of the program as she explained the computer system and various other things, and she kept asking us if we had any other questions. We didn't know what to ask. We had no questions. We hardly new where we were let alone had time to think up course related enquiries. And then she asked again. Silence.  She probably asked us 6 times. Still no questions. Was this a test? Maybe she was nervous? I tried to explain to her that at this point, my brain was swirling with flat hunting stresses, UK bank account information, mobile phone set-up, bank transfers, university passwords, student oyster cards, tuition fees, other passwords, usernames, id numbers, directions to Ikea, student rail cards, and my soggy right sock. She should be thrilled that I'd arrived at the meeting in the first place.

...I didn't tell her that I also needed to find a costume for Thanksgiving in a Castle. Details.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Weekend Update.

I've been terrible with the blogging and I'm sorry. I should also apologize as I haven't been taking the new camera with me (as we've been so busy flat hunting during the day), so most of my photos are still from my iphone. We are still staying at a friend's parent's place in Balham, and fingers crossed, have landed ourselves a very cute little flat a block off Northcote Road. I say fingers crossed, as it is the first play we looked into that wasn't through a letting agent, so there is definitely an element of risk. I'm not sure I'll feel completely excited about it until we have the keys in our hot little hands. He seemed legit, well spoken, and kind, but he does have an envelope of our money, and if we don't ever hear from him again, I guess it will be a learning experience! The flat hunt was horrific. We walked our feet off and viewed flats for about 10 hours a day for 7 days straight before we had any luck. We saw places that looked like University frat houses, places with mold, places with mouse traps, holes in the floor, no furniture despite a furnished advertisement...the list goes on. My friends had warned me that it would be like this, but nothing could have prepared me for how discouraged we felt night after night. Here's to hoping our cute little flat off Northcote Road is the real deal!

Yesterday I dragged S on a field trip to my new school. Truthfully, I wanted a partner in crime to navigate the train stations with. I know I'll get the hang of it eventually, but it's the constant hustle, numerous platforms, and complicated diagrams that currently stress me out every time.

The Journey to school (I still don't like trains!)

Welcome Tents (I think- wasn't brave enough to go in them!)

We literally arrived in the town where my school is, found the lecture theatre where I need to be on Monday, checked out the fitness club, did a five minute walk around the campus (it's not that big), and headed back to the train. It was scary! I felt like I was 17 and checking out a university for the first time. I can confirm that this is going to be a year surrounded by asymmetrical haircuts and tight jeans. I'm not sure I'm ready (although I guess that's better than long flowing skirts, frizzy hair, and dangling earrings!).

As I am the self designated social-coordinator for the two of us, I arranged for us to meet up with a British friend that I met in Barbados four years ago. We met him and his friends at a Polo Match, and then again a couple of evenings at the Island's local bars. As these evenings generally involved countless Banks (Barbados' own Beer), and rum punch, I couldn't remember much about my vacation friend, and I'm sure he would have said the same. I was so impressed that he took the time to come and meet up with us, and even more impressed that he recognised me after only meeting a few times years ago. M brought his friend from the Military (now a teacher and rowing coach), and met us at Gordon's Wine Bar in the centre of London. Gordon's is London's first wine bar (It was established in 1890). The place is extremely convenient because it's only about half a block down from the Strand exit of the Charing Cross tube station. It's easily missed from the street, and if you didn't know it was fantastic, you would probably walk by. Upon entering, you head down the stairs, and if you're lucky (which we were) you can find yourself a table in the back cavern. This is a dark cave-like space lit with candles. On this particular Friday evening, Gordon's was absolutely packed. S and I found half a table, and then by the time the boys joined us, the other half had vacated. 

Delicious Camembert and Gherkins

M showing he can rock a purse, wine glass, and leather jacket.
Clearly M is well practiced with purses (Flashback to Barbados 2009).

As Gordon's closes at 11pm, we hopped in one of London's Black cabs and headed to Soho. This was my first time in Soho (at least I think!), and I was not disappointed. We hit up a lounge (Boheme) where I had a fantastic Martini called 'The Porn Star', and then a famous Jazz Club called Ronnie Scott's (that we eventually had to vacate as the B.O. from the salsa dancers was out of control). We capped off the night with Italian espresso, freshly baked pizza (not your average 'buck-a-slice'), and large bottles of water, before cabbing home to Balham.
Overall an excellent first night out in the Big Smoke. If this is even partly a reflection of the year ahead, I can't wait.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

This and that (the week in transition).

A little flash back in time to some moments (from my iphone) in the past week, both in Vancouver, and London.

An Avocado/ Pesto and Proscuitto  creation on Naan bread (it wasn't as good as it looks in the photo!)

Murphy gives me some packing support.

The send-off dinner cheese platter.

The send-off dinner chocolate tray (from Chocolate Arts)

Last smell of the Pacific Ocean ( a walk along the seawall the day of departure)

My new blog worthy bracelet (a gift from Nicola)

Could you fit this in two bags? ....didn't think so.

Last Coldwater Road Show I will see for a year (unless they come on tour...hint hint!)

Do you sense a theme?
...and we're off (slowly, limping, but we're off)

A glass of sparkling white courtesy of Virgin, prior to take-off

S's bags

My bags...and my boot.

Contemplating life in Clapham

Missing the Murph dog.

Appy at Wahaca

Pulled Pork Tacos

Black Bean Tostadas
Chicken Taquitos

Churros with chocolate

The Maple Leaf Bar (with Sleemans and Molson on tap)
How could we pass this by?

A little London love for the 'Nucks and the Giants

A place to get the essentials

Last bit of sunlight in Covent Garden

Sorry, but again, not as good as it looks (it actually doesn't even look that good)

How to make up for the terrible lunch, also the simple way to my heart.....BEN'S!!!!