Thursday, 21 February 2008

Hooray - Maida Vale!

Yes, you read right. Traveller is no longer weeping for Maida Vale. Hubbie and T have found a flat! - in Maida Vale! Now, it isn't quite as luxurious and beautiful as the 'perfect' flat that they found, but it is in lovely 'MV', there are nice flatties, it is 1 min to the tube station, the room is an ensuite and the rent is reasonable (and includes a cleaner! yee-ha). This means that the flat ticked all the obligatory boxes, and T and hub signed the forms within ten minutes of viewing it. Real estate goes fast in 'MV' so there was no time to waste. The flat had only been advertised for one hour when they viewed it. Apparently the Ramsay gastropub has pushed up prices and interest in the area - so everything moves really fast.

Now, let me paint you a picture - 'MV' contains beautiful tree-lined streets, lovely familes playing in the park, gourmet delis + pubs, easy access to the city, and is a mere walk from Oxford Street and Notting Hill. Also, for those interested in celebrity (you know who you are) - apparently there is lots of celebrity spotting here - Kate Moss lives nearby, as does a McCartney and a Jagger! Another plus is the fact that its only two tube stops to Queen's Park - so we are still near T's fam which is lovely.
Now, in case you are all starting to pack your bags and book your tickets to Maida Vale, UK - we are in a flat with four other people, the lounge is very small and there is only 1 fridge - it isn't all perfect! But T & hub are fairly stoked. T is particularly happy securing a flat because this means that her and hub are almost on their way to their first European destination. They made a deal - as soon as the flat is sorted and both have jobs (Hub still looking - although he has been doing contract work for T's brother) - they are off to Paris, France!
Viva la France!

The London Flu

It starts out with a sore throat, and then your nose starts to develop a split personality (on one side - very, very runny and on the other - so blocked you can hardly breathe). Soon, your head and body begin to pound and feel overwhelmingly heavy. This then morphs into a chesty cough which is so bothersome it keeps all housemates (and you!) awake at night. Following this comes a desperate desire for foul cough medicine in order to overcome your horrible state of being. Finally, the flu begins to slowly relinquish control of your body and you start to see the world in a much more positive light.

Ahh, bless the London Flu. They say that this well-known condition is a combination of the cold weather and the pollution in London - not a pretty thought. Traveller almost smiles at the memory of this very memorable flu - even though she still holds onto a very husky voice and a smoker's (without the smoking) cough.

Suddenly, she sighs with a flashback of the previous evening where two flatties (husband and brother) both exhibited symptoms of this most dreaded and infamous affliction - Traveller definitely isn't going to be very popular at home.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Oh, how I weep for Maida Vale....

On Saturday, Traveller and her hubbie decided that they would devote their entire weekend to flat hunting and Monday morning is now a cruel reminder of their failed mission. In their P.J's, they lazed on the couch, scrolling through pages and pages of possible flatshares looking for the home with the best features - top on this list are: closeness to tube, safety of area, value of rent, and friendliness of flatties. is the place to find flatshares in London, and they scoured the site for any flats in North London. They found three possible prospects, and spent Saturday and Sunday checking them out. The first was located in Hyde Park Mansions. Alas, mansion it was not. It soon became quite apparent that this was an area that Traveller would prefer not to live - a little scary and too busy. There were eight people living in the flat - with one tiny kitchen as a living area. No thanks!

Next on the list was a flat in Maida Vale which is two tube stops from Traveller's brother. This was placed at Lauderdale Mansions and this time it was, indeed, almost as luxurious as a mansion! Much cheaper then the previous prospect - it was in a gorgeous area (wide, tree-lined streets - loads of families, parks and boutique shops). It was very clean, 5 mins from the tube, had lovely flatmates and now for the clincher...... Gordon Ramsay had just opened up a Gastropub on the very same street! Sold!
(NB: Gastropub is a british term for a pub that serves gourmet food.)

Sadly, it seemed like the rest of London thought that this particular flat was stunning as well - and the competition proved too stiff for Traveller and her hubbie, who were informed the following morning that they had been unsuccessful. Big bummer! It was going to be tough to find something else which was as perfect as Maida Vale.

Sunday saw one more flat and 'twas in a beautiful area, Dorset Square, but it was as big as my brother's living room (about the size of our garage at home) and we were to share with one other person! Not much privacy at all....and it cost more than dear ol' Maida Vale.

Oh well, hopefully you will read some good news next week on our search for the perfect place to hang our hats (and coats, scarves and mittens!)

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Time lasted in new job = 8.5 hours

Time it takes to find a totally new job in a completely different position = 48 hours.

Back in Australia, Traveller had found a job through a teaching recruitment agency to start a few days after arriving in the U.K. The job was a full-time position teaching English in an all-girls school near London.

It felt good to have a position ready for when we arrived. However, it took only 8 or so hours to realise that this position, school and enviroment were not what Traveller wanted. It was not that the girls were naughty (they were quite fine actually) - it was lots of factors rolled into one.

- The school was about 1 1/2 hours travel away from North London where we are staying.

- The position was replacing a teacher who had left at Christmas time, so the girls hadn't had a proper teacher for a couple of months and, as a result, were very behind. So there were about 7 classes of confused girls who needed tons of time, effort and knowledge to help them pass. EEk!

- There was no induction process - even though they had promised one. They put Traveller in the classroom (with another teacher) the minute she arrived and expected her to teach that afternoon (in a totally different curriculum, with no idea of what she should be teaching).

- The school was dreary, and no one seemed very happy. (There were police officers in the hallways- and this was supposedly a good school!)

So, Traveller arrived in the London flat that night and her huband and family decided it was best not to go back. The next day, Traveller's sister-in-law booked a meeting for her with a well-established recruitment agency. The meeting went well, and after some testing, they promptly offered her a job at their agency! So, now after completely changing careers (at least for a little while) - she starts work tomorrow in a reception gig in London city. Should be interesting!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

It's a little chilly....

Coat, gloves and a scarf are the order for the day here in London - the weather is quite freezing for Traveller and her husband who have just arrived from humid Singapore. Although, hubbie still has 'on occasion' worn shorts (much to the chagrin of our hosts).

The area that we are staying in is very beautiful - parks surround the borough, with little squirrels that come right up to you hoping for peanuts. There are farmer's markets on a Sunday - full of fresh produce and other yummy foodie type things. Also, the tube station is really close which makes travelling into the city quite easy. The best thing is staying with our brother and his wife - they have been gracious hosts, showing us the best sights and really settling us into London.

Snce arriving we have decided that London is full of wonderful, different and tasty experiences. There is an old myth that British food bites the big one...but all we have had since arriving are scrumptious morsels of food. We have eaten everything from pub food, Italian, Indian and some lovely home-cooked meals. Our most favourite was the Italian food which we had at Cantina - a restaurant on the Thames. Lovely wine, delicious pasta and superb dessert! It was lucky we had ice-skated all morning at Canary Wharf - so we didn't feel too guilty.

Hubbie has been amusing himself with all the local lingo - his favourites so far are:

Jolly - trip away for work: "Next week work is sending him on a jolly"
butty - sandwich: "Would you like some jam spread on your butty?"

One important thing that we have discovered over the last few days is that it is important to make sure you walk around, or bus around this city. Too much tubing means that all you see is concrete and you forget how beautiful your surroundings are. We love how beautiful it is here, even though its freezing!


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