Trooping the Colour

Saturday, 17th June 2017 marked the Trooping the Colour Ceremony: a day marked to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday. I decided to attend the event this year as it was a good opportunity to see the Queen in an event that has become a part of British tradition (I even convinced Henry to meet me at some ungodly hour to join).

In general, the atmosphere felt less celebratory than what I recall seeing on TV in earlier years and Queen Elizabeth herself that it was difficult to escape a very sombre national mood on what is traditionally a day of celebration. People still lined along The Mall for the procession and Trooping the Colour went ahead as scheduled.

I thought I would share photos of the event along with a brief written commentary. Trooping of Colour is an impressive British tradition and I am glad that I attended! Continue reading

Real Life London Monopoly

Hello wonderful people! I can’t believe that eight weeks have passed without a single blog update. I guess thats what happens when normal, mundane, day to day life becomes full with visitors from overseas, local exploration and travel adventures. Once Jessie and I return from Italy, I plan on updating everyone on the whirlwind that has been the last eight weeks; however, in the interim, I will give you a taster of what has kept me so busy!

In what appears to have become an annual tradition, about 8 of us got together to see if we could make it around the places on the Monopoly Board in a day. We split off into two teams and our photographic challenge literally became a battle of ‘Kiwis’ vs ‘The World’. Somehow, in seven and a half hours of utter madness, both teams made it around every property square and back to base (even with diversions that included going back three spaces and going straight to jail). With less than M100 in the scoring, the Kiwi’s won the day. So, to celebrate the win, I thought I would share with you my favourite photos of the day to prove we actually made it (a.k.a. Rome has beat us for this afternoon and I am recuperating in the apartment). Enjoy! Continue reading

101 Goals in 1001 Days

It is a beautiful weekend in London. The sun is shining, the days are longer and the temperatures are starting to rise. I can always tell that Summer is on its way when I start walking up naturally before 7am. The days of light are rejuvenating. It is that time of year where it is no longer a struggle to get out of bed and the extra daylight hours do wonders for the spirit. I feel like I am awaking from a functional hibernation now that winter has truly passed.

Now I am starting to feel alive I am finding the motivation to start exploring again. There are things that I have always wanted to do but, when the opportunity presents itself, I pass over something pathetic like a little drizzle or excessive crowds. There are also the things that you discover when you are listening to other peoples stories or researching the locations of spectacular Instagram photos. I am constantly reminded that London is a pretty amazing gateway to the world if you choose to embrace it.

It was decided, in a crazy moment of inspiration, that I wanted to create a list. Yes, a list. I wanted to do what so many people before me have done and attempt to achieve 101 in 1001. The goal is to write down 101 different things that you want to achieve in 1001 days and then actually complete them.

My 101 goals in 1001 days are predominantly focused on experiencing London, UK and Europe. In some ways my list seems simplistic, and in others, challenging. If successful, I will have travelled to 12 different countries, be able to hold a basic conversation in a language other than English, and will be able to rave about some of the best artisan coffee places that London has to offer.

Yes, definitely a crazy moment of inspiration, but I am going to give it a go! Would love to hear your thoughts on 101 in 1001, or your own experience of attempting this. If you were creating this list, what would you aim to achieve? Let me know and wish me luck!

Finding new Parisian experiences

When I lived in New Zealand, due to the distance, I always assumed that seeing Paris would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I imagined one or two nights of jam-packed activity where I would be racing the clock to see the key attractions including the art markets in Montmartre, Mona Lisa at The Louvre, and of course, the iconic Eiffel Tower. However, thanks to the Eurostar and purposeful visits, I have travelled to Paris on four separate occasions since I have moved to London. Those closest to me have heard my discontent for neglecting the rest of Europe for yet another trip to the French capital. I have so much desire to explore further afield.

Despite my desires, I found myself boarding another Eurostar earlier this month to help celebrate my cousin’s 21st Birthday at Disneyland Paris. My grumbles were silenced as I felt very privileged to be invited and was happy to be celebrating with Jess and her family. I was excited about my first Disney experience and vowed to make this journey an adventure. I endeavored to avoid the Eiffel Tower in search of new Parisian experiences and I thought I would share the highlights with you all.  Continue reading

My 18 Month Anniversary in London!

18 months ago I landed at London Heathrow. I was tired, jet lagged and had just travelled 14 hours with a Singaporean cold. I collected my thoughts at the airport before catching the tube to stay with a friend of a friend who, at that time, was located in Victoria.

18 months ago I laughed for the first time in the UK when I realised that the train conductor actually did say “This is a Piccadilly line train stopping at all stations to Cockfosters”. I cursed at the lack of step free-access at Victoria Station and was grateful to the stranger that carried my 19 kg suitcase up what felt like multiple flights of stairs.  Continue reading

Three weeks, three places

The past three weeks has felt very tiring and, as a consequence, I have not provided an update home. Normally, when I fail to write, it is because I can’t think of anything interesting to write about. This is different. I am tired; I feel as if I am starting to wake up alongside the slightly longer daylight hours.

I have, for the most part, resisted Netflix binges during the dark winter months. Last year, I went a bit crazy with train bookings and, in the past month, I have visited Paris, Edinburgh and Oxford. I thought I would share the highlights of these trips for this post and leave the London updates for another Sunday. First up, Paris.

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Chinese New Year Lantern Festival

As the year of the rooster started I decided I would head to Chiswick House and Gardens to explore the silk road at the Magical Lantern Festival! I have never seen a lantern festival quite like. The atmosphere was relaxed, the lanterns were spectacular and the dumplings tasted amazing. Words have failed me so I will leave you with seven of my favourite photos that were taken during my walk. Happy Chinese New Year! X Continue reading

Appreciating the little things

My normal new year routine started off with a glitch and it took me a few days to settle into 2017. London was living up to its wintery expectations with cooler temperatures, wet weather and continued afternoon darkness. My desire to engage in any activity other than hibernation was diminished and my enthusiasm for exploration had been smothered by the overall dark blanket that was winter.

Thankfully, the glitch corrected itself. As the days passed, I was able to find moments of enjoyment that distracted me from my mid-winter crisis. Now, two weeks into the new year, I am starting to feel like my normal self again. As a way to kick start the new year, I thought I would share with you three little things that I have appreciated so far in 2017! Continue reading

Goodbye 2016 and Hello 2017

Happy 2017 from London!! This year, my flatmate and I welcomed the new year from an office building that had panoramic views of Canary Wharf, City of London, The Shard and the London Eye after an evening of Pandemic, Sushi Go and Exploding Kittens (games,  not real life disease and animal cruelty). The evening was relaxed, the atmosphere chilled, and with around 120 other people, the crowds were non-existent. Everyone started to gather on the outside decks and the London Eye started to pulse for the countdown. London on the strike of midnight was spectacular! Fireworks started to ignite from the London Eye and the outer boroughs; a floating lantern was released into the air and the top of the Shard twinkled. 2017 started off beautifully.

I woke up this morning and went for a walk to grab my first coffee for 2017 and reflect on what I want to achieve over the coming year. I am not the type of person that makes rigid new years resolutions; however, I do like to think about how I want to grow in the coming year. At the end of 2017 I will be proud of myself if I am able to: Continue reading

2017 Expectations: Facebook Edition

Happy New Year’s Eve! I had a sleep in and woke up to another still, foggy and cold London morning. Deciding to relax I reached out for my phone and scrolled through my Facebook feed to see how friends were planning on welcoming 2017 back home while laughing at how many people are depicting 2016 as a horror movie. It was lovely to see people sharing their successes and planning on bringing in the new year quietly with friends, family and loved ones. New Year Celebrations start feeling overrated as you age.

You can imagine my relief to discover that Facebook recognised my coming of age. Now I am in my early thirties, there is no longer the need to sell me tickets to overpriced new year parties for adults who are in denial about the fact they are aging. By proxy, there is no need for the pregnancy test advertisements and the recommendations for family planning clinics that can support me to make decisions around unplanned pregnancy. I am adulting and Facebook understands this; they understand me. Therefore, it only feels appropriate that I share with you what Facebook predicts is in store for me in 2017… Continue reading

Reflections over the festive season

The cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine – Queen Elizabeth II

I hope you are enjoying the festive period no matter where you are in the world or how you are choosing to celebrate it. This is now my second Christmas in London and, in contrast to last year, I am finding myself creating an idea on what I want my life in the U.K to look like come Christmas 2017.

I have noticed and appreciated the consideration of others leading into this festive period. I have appreciated the conversations and thoughtfulness of my friends and family in New Zealand, Australia and the U.K. I have received Christmas Cards and gifts from my friends and family and have felt a tad guilty when I have seen the thought and forward planning that has gone into some of these gifts.  I have noticed the kindness and generosity of strangers in London as I have gone about my day-to-day interactions and wished I have made an effort to be more charitable. Continue reading

December Highlights

I can’t believe it… we are almost three weeks into December!  The days have passed so quickly and I have unintentionally become absent from the blog. The way it has happened would make anyone think that I have had nothing noteworthy to share since binge watching Gilmore Girls. Surprisingly, I have been keeping myself busy leading up to the christmas period and, with that, have lost my regular routines to a certain extent. Here are my top three December highlights. Continue reading

A weekend of Gilmore Girls

After close to 10 years I, like every other Gilmore Girls fan, was given the opportunity to see how the show was supposed to end all those years ago. I could hardly contain my excitement. For me, Gilmore Girls is my cult classic. I have fond memories of watching the show with friends over binge foods of choice whether that be pizza, ice-cream sundaes or movie theatre sweets. I have also relied on Gilmore Girls in those emotionally hard moments where I need to ride out a wave of distressing or painful emotion. Gilmore Girls is more than a show to me, it is an influencer and is potentially responsible for my coffee addiction.

The show was released in the UK just as I was leaving home for work. I avoided social media as much as my autopilot would allow and stockpiled on a diet fit for a Gilmore Girl on the way home. It was going to be a long night.  Continue reading

Gilmore Girls and a dash of productivity

Greetings from the land where it is 7 degrees but feels like 3. With this information in mind you will forgive me for sacrificing a weekend of exploration for my final mad dash attempt to finish Season 7 of Gilmore Girls in time for the revival on the 25th. In all fairness, I was not as lazy as I make myself sound. In my down time from Stars Hollow I have started making plans for 2017. Continue reading

My thoughts are with New Zealand

I delayed this mornings post as I wanted to create a brief Q&A about what one should expect when they relocate to London. The idea came to me as I have friends and family in New Zealand, Australia and Italy all making the move by the end of January and, most mornings, I will have at least one question on Facebook messenger about setting up in the UK capital. I was thinking that a brief Q&A guide would be beneficial to my friends and family who are making the move along with everyone else who is considering the UK as a viable option in the wake of the Trump Presidency. However, at this moment, I am more concerned about sending my love to friends and family back home. Continue reading

An espresso shot of Sunday coffee

Welcome to your espresso shot of Sunday Coffee. I was absent last Sunday as I had my beautiful cousin Jess visiting for a week from Milan and sometimes it is nice to relive the normal tradition of having Sunday coffee with an actual live person who will respond to the words that flow out of your mouth (even if that person prefers a hot chocolate)! Now that I am back to my usual reality of the homemade cup of coffee in my pretty owl cup, I will update you on the happenings of the last couple of weeks! Continue reading

Verbal reasoning with a side of blogging

Greetings from a slightly less dismal London. It is amazing what a glimpse of sun on a Sunday morning can do for one’s mood! I normally make a point of getting outside when the rays are beaming but traded in a walk to my local cafe for a Nespresso, computer screen and a nice patch of sun on our living room floor. I am in preparation mode.  Continue reading

The flip side to the upside

Welcome back to the routine of the Sunday coffee post. I returned to London from Italy on Tuesday evening and was back into my standard work routine by the end of the week. My weekend is now close to over and my time in Venice, Florence, PisaCinque Terre and its beautiful surrounds, Portofino, Milan and Verona are close to a long distant memory!

I have wholeheartedly decided that the term ‘post-holiday blues’ was coined in London as a consequence of dwellers returning to the city after their glorious, sun-soaked, summer getaways to Europe. I stepped off the plane to discover autumn disguising itself as winter in every respect except for the extremely shortened daylight hours that only the depths of a UK winter can master.  Continue reading

Exploring the surrounds of Cinque Terre

As lovely as the heart of Cinque Terre is, I wanted to make time for some of the outlying villages that would not necessarily get a mention in the Lonely Planet. With this in mind, I decided to stay outside of Cinque Terre National Park with the hope that I would see the a more authentic side of the Cinque Terre area. I could not decide if I wanted to situate myself in a Corvara, a village surrounded by mountains, or Framura, a hilltop village that overlooked the Sea. My solution was to experience them both! Continue reading

Exploring Cinque Terre

I have just left Cinque Terre and its surrounds after an amazing five nights in two different locations. If you haven’t heard of it, Cinque Terre is composed of the following five beautiful little hillside villages along the Italian Riviera: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Cornigla, Vernazza and Monterosso. Each town can be reached by train, ferry or hike and each town has its own uniqueness even though there are a lot of similarities between them. I spent two days exploring the Cinque Terre National Park and the other three days exploring other villages located close by. Here are my highlights of the heart of Cinque Terre. Continue reading

A brief encounter with Pisa

One of the advantages of traveling from Florence to Cinque Terre was that I could visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The leaning tower is something of an icon that everyone must see when traveling Europe is expected to see. Furthermore, anyone who has already laid eyes on this wonder will most likely tell you that the leaning tower is the only worthwhile thing to see in Pisa. I wanted to visit the place that so many before me had travelled so I decided to disembark briefly at Pisa Centrale en route to Monterosso.

I only arranged a two-hour stop over at Pisa Centrale as I assumed that I would only want to take a couple of photos of the leaning tower before grabbing a bite to eat and returning to the train station. It didn’t take long after my arrival before I realised that my initial assumption was completely incorrect. Continue reading

My Thoughts on the City of Florence

I recently spent three nights in Florence with the intention of exploring the city and completing day trips to Siena and potentially Rome to see the Colosseum if I was super bored. I did not have any expectations for Florence, nor had I researched it. Florence just seemed an ideal place to situate myself for a few nights as I travelled from Venezia to Cinque Terre. Despite my dismissive nature, everyone I spoke to told me that I would fall in love with Florence and, as time approached, I started to feel hopeful.  Continue reading

Venezia in Photographs

Greetings from Italia! I arrived in Venezia yesterday afternoon and have spent the last 24 hours in awe of the beautiful surrounds I found myself in. Venezia is a water city with beautiful buildings, bridges, canals and narrow lane ways that are home to amazing Murano glass work, colourful leather hand bags and beautiful Venetian masks. I fell in love with Venezia the moment I disembarked from the water ferry, and my love for this city grew with every unplanned turn off the beaten tourist path. Sadly, my affair with Venezia was short this time around, but there will be a next time. For now, here are some photos of the magical place I have just left behind.  Continue reading

Satisfying my inner book worm and caffeine addiction

Welcome to another week of Embracing London. I am pretty certain I have spent most of this week going from work to bed as my immune system has failed to keep me entirely healthy. However, once I worked out that taking Panadol and Nurofen actually make me feel better, my wellbeing, and mood in general started to improve. Turns out, on reflection, I did a lot more with my week than I thought. So, what were my highlights of the week? Continue reading

Embracing Everything Freudian

The psychology of human behaviour fascinates me. The semester before I started my degree, I would often sit cross-legged in the psychology section of the EIT library and read abstracts from different introductory texts (One book featured a black and white image of an obese lab rat, missing part of its hypothalamus, sitting on a set of scales – the odd things that commit themselves to memory).

During my university years, I was drawn to the ways that a persons behaviour can be altered if they are exposed to the correct environmental conditions (for example, there was a teacher who discovered that you could turn a classroom of children against each other by telling them that their eye colour influenced their social status). Personally, my academic interest was in both developmental and abnormal psychology. After leaving university, my interest in psychology remained.

How does all this relate to experiencing London you ask? Simply, Freud set up home in London after leaving Austria as a refugee and his daughter, Anna, wanted his home to become a museum after her death. Me, with my natural inclination to be drawn to anything psychological, decided to go and check it out. Continue reading

My first year in the United Kingdom

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for – Unknown”

Come tomorrow, I have been in London for an entire year! This milestone is one that elicits both excitement and reflection within me. I am excited about the fact that I found my feet in this crazy capital given I arrived here with a return flight and an open position back home; however, I am reflective as it is now time to start grounding myself in the city that I am now calling home. Year one was about finding my feet; year two is going to be about establishing myself and self-development. Scary!

To save you from the inner workings of my over analytical mind, I thought I would send off my first year by sharing some photos that I have taken since arriving in the UK (I will even share what I love about each photo given I was pretty useless at keeping in touch until recently). Right, where to start? Continue reading

A Birthday Celebration at Oblix

Within a week of moving to London, I had met three very awesome people by the end of my first ever English pub quiz. As the weeks passed, my inability to contribute to the answers of most of the questions during each quiz was accepted solely on the basis that I had an amazing talent of randomly marking the quiz paper of the unfortunate team that would generally come last at the end of the night. Outside of pub quiz, the four of us bonded over Pandemic Legacy. Come Halloween, we had started the birthday tradition.

The birthday tradition is one where the four of us come together to celebrate each others birthdays and hope like hell that the recipient is impressed. Maria’s birthday saw our group overlooking the city from the Sky Garden before watching Wicked the Musical from the front row of the theatre; Phil’s birthday was celebrated in Brussels after I accidentally booked a Eurostar trip on his birthday weekend; and my birthday was celebrated with dinner and a musical before we took off to Jersey for the long weekend. Now, close to a year after we all met, it was time to celebrate Lukie’s birthday. Continue reading

UK Bank Holiday in Cambridge

Greetings! Today marks the Late Summer Bank Holiday in the UK. With an interest in avoiding Notting Hill Carnival I decided that the extra day off could be a good excuse to leave London. I headed to the magical gateway, more accurately known as King’s Cross Station, and purchased a ticket to Cambridge (during this process, I believe I was conned into giving someone about £4.00 for a ‘train fare’… this is what happens when I am distracted with no caffeine in my system). Within the hour, my train arrived in Cambridge and I started to navigate my way towards The River Cam.  Continue reading

When the weather is temperamental

Greetings from home! The appeal to explore this weekend is severely diminished. I had planned on making a trip out to the Freud Museum as the former psychology student in me is fascinated with the infamous couch that belonged to the founder of psychoanalysis. Sadly, the weather was temperamental so I decided to defer my psychoanalytic expedition. So, what does one do to entertain themselves after making an executive decision to remain house bound?

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Escaping to Primrose Hill

Good morning from Saint Espresso. Saint Espresso is a quaint little cafe near The Angel Islington with floor to ceiling windows, old style light fittings and a brick feature wall. The staff are chilled, they serve a pretty decent latte, and you can purchase quirky coffee essentials such as ‘latte art dice’. I was really hoping that this little outing would put me in the head space to write. I don’t think the caffeine has started working yet.

My week can only be described as an ordinary one. This is the type of week where you grab your caffeine fix and head into work before retiring to home with a good book or yet another episode of Madam Secretary. Saturday came around and, realising I had nothing of interest to share for this week, I decided to escape the apartment and headed towards Primrose Hill. Only a 35 minute walk along Regents Canal, it is something that I have always intended to do; I just never got around to actually doing it.  Continue reading

An overview of London

I thought I would start this post on a high and take you up to the top of The Shard. The Shard is a relatively new London building that overlooks a large proportion of London landmarks (just like the Sky Tower in Auckland, Eureka Skydeck in Melbourne and the Empire State Building in New York). I was wary about entering a potential tourist trap but given I have free access to The Shard following the purchase of a Love London card back in February, I wanted to make sure that I used it at least once. Additionally, as I have felt a bit unsettled this week, I really liked the idea of clearing my head from the open air deck on the 72nd floor.

The view from the top is amazing and I think it is one of the best views of London I have seen. On such a clear day, it gave far-stretching views of the city. It seems fitting that I use this opportunity to provide a snapshot of the city that I have started to call home.  Continue reading

Over the teacup


Well, more accurately, over the coffee cup (I could never give up my flat white addiction in order to become that British)…

… seriously though, I have been in London for close to a year and have realised that I am terrible at keeping in close contact with most of my family and friends back home. I had taken copies of physical addresses with the intent to write and I promised to share photos of my adventures but I absolutely failed you all. My ambitions resulted in 11 postcards that were sent to three people and a few lousy updates on Facebook. Sometimes I question why people have continued to befriend me. Thankfully, people have continued to befriend me and still keep me up to date with their worlds – I am now going to attempt to do the same. Continue reading