Life in London…The Highs And The Lows

When I sat down at my computer tonight and started to tap-tap-tap away, I couldn’t quite decide what to post about.  It’s been a long 48 hours and I feel a bit knackered after all of the highs, lows and running around that seems to have constituted life in the UK over the last couple of days.

You see it all started Thursday night. After dinner with an old work friend, it was a long bus ride home through a ridiculous amount of traffic, resulting in a rather late night and significantly less sleep than is sensible on a ‘school’ night.  A Low

However, I did find it fascinating watching the stream of humankind that was advancing steadily from Hyde Park (Kings of Leon playing apparently) who were squeezing themselves into the much smaller entrance to Green Park tube station – this all viewed from my comfy seat on the top deck of the (almost stationary) number 14 bus.  A (slightly smug) High.

My rather epic struggle into work on Friday morning was a definite Low.  Let me tell you here and now, a long commute is not conducive to morning perkiness at the best of times and I was rather concerned I might drop off and find myself well past where I wanted to be.  But Friday is fish and chips day at work – always a High.  (We have a canteen that provides  meals at lunchtime so my evening toast consumption habit is not nearly as careless, lazy or diet conscious as it may look – ooh, there’s another High). I booked a couple of days off work to have a 4 day weekend around my birthday (yes peeps, the countdown is a-comin’!) – another High. And then on the way home, there was a last minute invite to a 4 year old’s birthday party (pizza-making at Pizza Express no less) on Saturday which dealt me a quick one-two: A High (to be invited) then a Low (realising I would have to get up early to get errands done before I went).

Today was a rollercoaster of Highs (wine, cake, pizza, 15 kids in cute hats making their pizza – aaaaawwww!!) and Lows (emergency locksmith call out, aborted afternoon drive to Southend-on-Sea, 15 kids full of excitement, sugar, squealing-type noises, more sugar and hysterical tiredness – uugggghhh!).  The weather started off a bit grey and average too (Low) but by the time we were sitting outside Starbucks at the O2 shopping centre this afternoon bathed in sunshine, it seemed that tomorrow’s promised dip into Summer had made an early appearance (High).  An incident-free trip home and a little visit to Waitrose for bread, newspaper and a few bits (I do love Waitrose!) were the happy pieces that tipped the scales in the right direction.

But here’s the best part. 

I have a day at home tomorrow with  he promise of glorious sunshine and a fab book to read.

High-di-high campersLife just doesn’t get any better.

…and here endeth the post that nearly was not.

London…On The Cheap(side)…

I had lunch with some great friends of mine today who moved to the UK permanently two and half years ago. We were chatting about how long it takes to feel ‘settled’ and they reminded me that, in their early expat days, I had said to them that it took me somewhere between 18 months to two years before I’d started to feel like I had actually ‘built’ a life for myself versus the feeling of being a long staying tourist.

Did I really say that?  I can’t really remember…

But what I do remember is my initial shock at how expensive things were and a big part of feeling ‘settled’ for me was finding ways to do things cheaply – most expats in the UK can reel off a whole variety of discount ‘opportunities’ – and I soon learned that if you look hard enough, there are lots of ways to do this.

For example, today’s lunch included a 50% discount off the food bill and was booked through toptable…and my travel to our fab foodie feast was courtesy of Oystercard (which almost halves the bus fare).  I have also booked a 70min massage for a few weeks time through Groupon at a whopping 66% off and I have had countless 2-for-1 meals with friends using vouchers from newspapers like the Metro, email newsletters (Giraffe, gbk and Pizza Express are particular faves) and voucher websites like vouchercloud and vouchers.co.uk.

So the key to London ‘on the cheap’ is this – Sign up for as many things as you can.  You may fill your inbox to overflowing but when it comes to getting the deals, it really is a numbers game.

And you can also rest assured in the knowledge that you’ll never go hungry – if all else fails, supermarket-brand baked beans are only 19p a can!

Ker-ching!

ps…for you Londoners that might be interested in some terrific Turkish fare, get yourself down to Cirrik in Richmond…via toptable of course!

Angels & Demons…

After being a bit disappointed by the movie version of The Da Vinci Code (particularly after loving the book) it was with a mixture of excitement and apprehension that I entered the darkened cinema on Sunday to see Angels & Demons – the book that came first and the story I loved best. And I am pleased to say that, despite some slight script tampering to pretend that The Da Vinci Code story came first, Ron Howard did a fantastic job. A great race against time with that amazing twist right at the end, we ran all over Rome with Robert Langdon, reading the symbols and absorbed in the ‘legend’ of the Illuminati right to the end. So exhausted were we from our thrilling adventure that afterwards, we decided to refresh ourselves Italian-style – at Pizza Express. Buona salute!!
To see the trailer itself, just click on the blog post title