Thursday, January 31, 2008

Last Full Day in London

And I'm thrilled. I'm sick to tears of living in a hotel. Last night was supposed to be another quiet night in ... but although I ended up curled up in bed with series after 7:30pm, it was the first half of the evening that drove me absolutely mental and increased my driving need to get home!

More on that in a bit, but first ... yesterday I had lunch with The Traveler, a girl who used to work on our floor back in SA but then moved departments completely. Imagine my surprise when I bumped into her in the corridors of the office over here - she's also apparently over for 2 weeks. So we scheduled lunch yesterday. A good chance to catch up as we are both avid travelers (she also wanted to go to the Gorilla's last year and has already been to Antarctica!).

We went to a little place up the road called Fresh Italy. I loved it ... especially the fun cups they serve their pasta in - what a novel idea :)

And then to last night. I figured I'd grab some simple soup from Eat en route home. With that in mind, I hopped off the tube at Tottenham Court Road and decided to walk home to the hotel (nearest station Marble Arch).

It doesn't look quite so far in the map, but it is 3 tube stops away ... all along the chaotic Oxford Street ... with my laptop weighing down on my back (luckily in flat shoes!). Either way every single Eat restaurant I found had sold out of the soup I was craving. So an hour later after much wandering around Oxford Street side roads I dropped off my laptop at the hotel and headed out again determined to find dinner and desperate to avoid Italian (had it for lunch), Lebanese (explained that yesterday) and the Fast Food Joints (McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC and Subway).

By 7:30 I gave up and was just far too exhausted to continue my search. I headed to KFC (by far the closest food outlet to the hotel) and ordered myself a burger. Nothing like KFC in South Africa, let me tell you. Their chicken burger was far more like the McChicken burgers we get back home. Really was not very impressed or thrilled by my necessity eating. It's things like this (and having a microwave, stove and a fridge) that make me long to be home!

After that I went back to the hotel to sulk and watch series while my feet and back recovered. Luckily this morning I am in a far better mood ... Tonight is my last night of hotel living :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Thing About Omlettes ...

Went home the long way last night. Via the Studio Fusion Gallery at the Oxo Tower to collect some jewelry for my aunt (she had it on exhibition and now wants it back ... fair enough since they haven't sold it for her).

Last night was nice and quiet ... although dinner gets a little annoying to arrange when I'm already back in my hotel room and have to contemplate wandering about in search of who knows what (cause I have no specific cravings and I have no idea what's good and I don't especially enjoy the whole dining solo thing).

So last night I discovered I am surrounded almost exclusively (I say almost because there are the usual fast food places around too) by Lebanese and Italian restaurants. Now I had Italian on Monday night so certainly wasn't planning on having it 2 nights running. And I'm not convinced I'm a fan of Lebanese food, not that I exactly know what it is tho ... I know I love Italian, Thai, Mexican, Indian, Sushi and even Greek Mezze food. It's the Portugeuse, Lebanese, Moroccan type food I'm not so certain about.

So no, sorry to disappoint, I didn't try it on my own last night. Btw. If you do enjoy the above foods, leave me a note and let me know what's good to try :)

And another thing I've learnt on this trip is about omlettes. I've seen 3 different Omlette Chefs at the hotel. So far there is only 1 I hope is behind the stove top! The others generally let the egg cook for too long before adding the filling (I prefer my cheese melted into the egg) and or they don't let the omlette "fuse" ... flip it closed in time for the two sides to join. And if you don't do that, let me tell you from experience, all the filling falls out as you try to elevate a portion between plate and mouth. Although the guy this morning did use a delish excessive amount of filling, which would ordinarily score point with me ... if only the egg base of the omlette and the filling didn't end up being two completely separate meals.

Counting down the days ... almost home :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Four Days Till Home Time

Last night was nice, took a wander down Oxford Street again. All the way from Marble Arch to Goodge Street (don't even ask me who comes up with names like that?).

Bought what I think is a fab shirt for Varen from Desigual on Regent Street and now I can spend the rest of my trip worrying if he'll like it or even wear it ;)

Then I met Mr. Hood at the Goodge Street Station and we went for dinner at another little random Italian place (Trattoria Mondello) for really cheap pizza (or so I'm assured!). The food was good (they even let me add avocado to my pizza) and we shared a nice bottle of Sicilian Red wine.

> Some background: Mr. Hood & I work together at the Grapevine back in both our Cape Town days. He's been over in London for about a year longer than I've been living in Joburg so we haven't seen each other in about 4 years but do keep in occasional email contact.

Was lovely to catch up in person and we had a good laugh remembering all the folks we used to work with and discussing the state of South Africa these days.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Overly Egypt Themed

Oh, and I forgot to mention that during my relaxing time at the hotel this weekend, I finished reading my latest book, Seven Ancient Wonders by Matthew Reilly.

It is the biggest treasure hunt in history with contesting nations involved in a headlong race to locate the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 4500 years ago, a magnificent golden capstone sat at the peak of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was a source of immense power, reputedly capable of bestowing upon its holder absolute global power. But then it was divided into seven pieces and hidden, each piece separately, within the seven greatest structures of the age. Now it's 2006 and the coming of a rare solar event means it's time to locate the seven pieces and rebuild the capstone. Everyone wants it - from the most powerful countries on Earth to gangs of terrorists ...and one daring coalition of eight small nations. Led by the mysterious Captain Jack West Jr, this determined group enters a global battlefield filled with booby-trapped mines, crocodile-infested swamps, evil forces and an adventure beyond imagining.

I enjoyed this book ... it's again an easy read and a pretty good fun adventure sort. I like (what I call) the "Egypt factor" which generally makes me more likely to read just about any book :) It's an interesting pretty much un-likely concept with some fun characters.

If you're taking a lengthy flight or you need a book that you're only able to read in small portions, this is probably a good recommendation :)

> Follow Matthew Reilly on Twitter

And something I saw on the South Africa Rocks blog (after I followed a hit back to there after they posted about their pride in having 3 SA Bloggers up for a 2008 Bloggie award) ... Cape Town is one of the Cities that you can vote for to become a city on the World Monopoly Board. I've signed up and cast my first vote (apparently it's a daily thing) and I encourage everyone else to as well :)

What a fun idea :) They seem to have Monopoly Boards themed for all occasions these days, I went into Hamley's yesterday afternoon and saw that they have an Ancient Egyptian one I was tempted to get. But then I reminded myself I should at least be waiting till I have kiddies before I buy certain things!

Last London Weekend

So, it was another busy weekend in London ... thankfully my last. I'm really ready for home now!

Friday evening was spectacular (aside from the multiple tube lines being down resulting in a rather round about journey). I went to The Royal Albert Hall to see Varekai, the Cirque du Soleil performance.

It was brilliant and I can't wait for the opportunity to see another one :) Bizarrely enough this was the exact show that I'd seen dvd clips from that first inspired me to see a Cirque du Soleil show live!

Saturday morning I met up with GalleryGirl (a member of the Goof Troop who was over here for the weekend on business en route to Amsterdam). It was interesting on a couple of levels. Nice to spend some time with someone I hadn't last seen about 10 years ago and also a nice opportunit yto get to know her a little better since I haven't really spent that much time chatting just with her in the group situations.

Since she is quite literally a Gallery Girl, we headed to the Tate Modern for a browse around. This was very nice since it's not something I would've thought of doing on my own :) It's always nice to be exposed to new things by other people's interests.

We saw The Giant Great Crack in the Floor (see right) ... and that was where the allowed photography ended. GalleryGirl also managed to flash her badge and get herself (and me tagging along) into the Juan Munoz Exhibition which I thought was awesome!

Saturday afternoon we wandered around (how hysterical is the sign on the left from nearby her hotel!) and did some shopping (her not me) and I then ended up exhausted back at my hotel while she carried on catching up with some of her other friends over here.

On Sunday I went to brunch with Nix & Hoen at Giraffe and had the best breakfast ever (aside from mom's egg soufflé thing we had at Cinsta!). I had Ranch Style Eggs Tostada (Free range eggs, warm tortilla, spicy mexican sausage, black bean chilli, avocado & jack cheese) and a Giddy Giraffe Smoothie (Papaya, fresh mint, banana, orange & lime juice). Seriously, the food was amazing and such a lovely change from the now-boring hotel breakfast!

After breakfast, the three of us headed to a lesser known part of Hampstead Heath for a look at the Hill Gardens & Pergola. It was a lovely walk and much needed after our big breakfast :)

And then I headed for a disappointing stroll down Carnaby Street on my way home. I'm guessing it would have been less disappointing if I had pounds to spend ;)

The rest of Sunday afternoon was spent relaxing in my hotel room ... it's hard to be on holiday while trying to work at the same time! But, only a few days left till I'm back home with my lovely man, I'm counting down the days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday :) 5 days to go!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Best Day of my Trip

En route home from Las Iguana's the other night I spotted an M&S at the giant Waterloo Station and headed in to buy myself a packet of Percy Pigs ... apparently one of the things South African's love best about the UK (as professed by Lopz on my comments and Nix & Hoen backed her up at dinner when I asked about it).

So after all this fuss, I obviously had to try them. I wasn't especially impressed. In fact I was handing them out at work yesterday morning - sorry guys.

Anyway, on with yesterday ... The morning provided quite a stunning realisation :) I noticed that my Stat Counter was logging a number of link thru's from the 2008 Bloggies website. They hadn't yet published the list of finalists when I checked the day before so I was excited to see this (and quietly hoping on the inside that I knew what it meant!). I did! I shrieked with joy - yes, at my desk and subsequently had to explain to those in at the UK office as early as I was that I had a blog and was now a finalist for an International Blog Award :) See the write up in the side panel for details on how you can cast your very valuable vote for me!

After that, the day couldn't be anything but good :) I tried Eat for lunch (apparently you're either an Eat person or a Pret a Manger person ... I'd say you can't tell from one meal at each). I had a very yummy Roast Aubergine with Mozzarella & Tomato Ciabatta ... toasted (which took even longer than the eating, might I add!).

After work I raced back to the Hotel to drop off my laptop and then hopped back on the tube again and headed to the British Museum. One of the guys here had organised me a free ticket (normally GBP 12) to see the Terracotta Army Exhibition. What a thrill. Aside from the niggling fear that they were going to find me out (picking up a free ticket on someone else's BM Member's card), it was spectacular.

Once I had my ticket in hand and was assured entry everything went smoothly and I spent an hour & half wandering around inside the exhibit. It was fascinating and I'm more determined than ever to head over to China to see the real thing (Not that this wasn't real, just that it was a select few on display as opposed to the 7000 standing guard)!

I was sad to hear that there were no camera's allowed in the exhibit (unlike the rest of the BM), but I guess if you're charging GBP 12 as an entry fee, you can't have pictures splash around. I must say I am thrilled to have timed my trip just right for this exhibition (still on till 6 April FYI).

And then my day just got even better ... I still had enough time after the exhibit to head over to Selfridges on Oxford Street (yes, where Eva Longoria was apparently shopping just yesterday!) and buy my coat. Yippee! This was one of the best days of my trip by far :)

I ended the evening quietly with an interesting meal at McDonalds - their menu is nothing like ours in SA. I had a Cajun Chicken Wrap with Wedges instead of Fries and a Coke Zero (wish SA would wake up to the Zero soft drinks!). And then came home to relax in a lovely hot Bubble Bath (literally, I had bubbles just above the bath rim! Who knew Shower & Bath Oil did that?)

Such a fabulous day ... And today is Friday, which means this can only get better :) Tonight I'm off to see the Cirque du Soleil Varekai performance at the Royal Albert Hall, can't wait!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another Night on the Town

Yesterday about 15 of us here in the London office took a two hour lunch break and headed to Barcelona Tapas for lunch. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to chat to some of the other people from the office (like aside from the folks I'm working directly with or sitting near). I can't believe how cosmopolitan it seems, people here are from all over the globe and it's very interesting!

Last night when I got back to the hotel, I found that my most anticipated Amazon purchase had arrived ... the wide-angle conversion lens for my camera. Haven't had too much of an opportunity to really play with it (took a few test shots in the hotel bedroom to spot the difference).

Sadly I did not have the time or Credit Card funds to get my coat last night :( Am hastily transferring today in the hopes that I can either get it this evening or tomorrow! I am determined that this is the coat for me! See the sneaky pic I took on the left and let me know if you think it's worth the 60 GBP :)

Anyhoo, and then it was off to Waterloo station to meet up with Nix & Hoen (both friends from High School Days - Hoen I have only seen once or twice since she left SA for New Zealand after school and Nix and I try to see each other whenever we happen to be in the same city, which is not that often).

Nix took us to a little bar called Cubana for a pre-dinner drink. Nix & I both had a Frozen Papaya (fresh papaya blended with Caney Carta Blanca rum, fresh strawberries, orange and lime juice) - very nice :)

Then we headed off to Las Iguana's for dinner. Dinner turned out to be very nice ... even tho we started out being told we'd have a wait of 15 - 20 minutes and we actually ended up being "seated" an exhausting 40 minutes later. At least they have some fairly decent cocktails that we could enjoy during our wait (I had an Apple Mojo - fresh mint crushed with sugar & ice, with rum, lime, apple juice and soda). For dinner I tried their Vegetarian Chimichanga which was very yummy and highly recommended :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Survived My First Week

Last night I raced home to drop off my laptop and head back to the Sixty Pound Jacket I found yesterday ... shopping alone I can usually do, but when purchasing an item that costs about 840 South African Rond, one needs that second opinion. So I'll be mailing those pics thru to Varen, since he has kindly offered to buy it for me, for his opinion later today. Ps. I did also have another look around nearby shops for an alternative but have so far found nothing that piques my interest.

I also got more Amazon "gifts". My camera case and 4Gb memory card ... that's right people I can now snap happy for up to 1500 pictures on my snazzy 8 Megapixel camera!

I also got my two Live Lounge CDs ... in separate parcels. Told you Amazon's posting was mental. Been wanting these CDs for a while ... but they're not available for download or anywhere in SA ... so my trip here seemed like the perfect opportunity. And since I generally tend not to buy CDs, worth the spend.

Then I headed across the Thames (underground so I didn't even notice!) for dinner with The Divine Miss M and some more of her friends ... one of whom I'd been in high school with. The South African community in London sometimes seems as small as Cape Town :)

It was a pretty weird experience, we went to The King's Arms Pub which has a Thai restaurant attached. The food was pretty fab, I had a Chicken Massamun Curry and since we were in a pub, I tried an Irish Cider called Magner's :)

So far the trip has been good and I'm trying to cram as much in as possible ... but I am definitely getting bored of living in a hotel and am missing home and Varen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sunny Day in London

So the day has been pretty decent so far. Went to The Japanese Canteen for lunch with Kersh. Had the Chicken Teriyaki Donburi with noodles. It was decidedly average but was worth trying. If I went back I'm not sure I'd have it again ... the chicken was quite dry but the noodles were yummy :)

And then we went out onto the roof terrace to have a look at the view and enjoy one of the few clear London days of my trip so far. In the first you can see Tower Bridge and in the second you can see the vague outline of the London Eye.

Dining Solo

Last night when I got home there were two more packages awaiting me :) Varen's camera case arrived (earlier than everything else I ordered first on Amazon!) and my 3 card games from Green Knight Games.

Thanks to The Peeb's American boyf Button, I've become addicted to Fluxx. And since it's not available in Sunny South Africa, I figured I'd get myself a version while here. I ended up getting a couple of other games that sounded similarly interesting too ... Now if only I could find people to play with when I get back home ;)

1. Eco-Fluxx - similar to Fluxx but with different Keepers and Goals.

2. Backpacker - Backpacker is a fantastic card game about travelling the world. Inspired by real life backpacking experiences, it’s aimed at those with an urge to wander and a mind for adventure, be it sitting at home or off on your travels.

3. Murdero - Murdero is a murder mystery card game that resembles a combination of Rummy mixed with collectible card games where action cards that bend rules alter the run of play.

After unwrapping all the new toys, I headed out on Oxford Street ... yes, again. It's basically where everything is so it makes the most sense. In exciting news, I think I've found myself a coat/jacket that I really like ... although it is GBP60 (eep!). So I'm trying to convince myself that if I skip getting boots or anything else, it would be worth it cause it is so fab and I could use it while I'm here as well as back home :)
And I sorted myself out with a new pay as you go Orange UK sim card for the next 2 weeks.

Then I found a random little Italian place for some dinner ... Melanzane Parmigiano, yum :) But I really am not used to this dining solo thing, I must remember to take a book or something along with me. Otherwise since I'm alone and have nothing to do I end up rushing thru my meal just to get out of there. Does not make for a relaxed dining experience!

And that was about my evening. On the completely plus side, the sun was out on my walk to work from the tube station this morning :) It really does cheer you up. And something that cheers me up even more is being able to chat to Varen ... we managed to get Google Talk Calling working and got the thrill of being able to hear each other's voices again ;)

ps. His Turbo-charger blew in his car last night and he is now driving around in my baby C2 ... you'd better drive extra carefully till I get home!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Things I Forgot

I wrote my earlier post last night in preparation ... this is what happens when you're sitting alone in a Hotel room. But I realised this morning that I'd left out some of the things I wanted to mention.

Firstly the weirdest thing happened, I bumped into a girl I was friends with in high school while en-route to dinner on Friday night. How completely random. Then she was having drinks at Ruby Blue on Saturday night as well. Now what are the chances of that?

And then last night at about 4:45pm the Hotel staff came to service my room. So I headed out to find myself some dinner. The weirdest thing was that Oxford Street was still alive and pumping in the dark. All the shops were still open and there were plenty of people still shopping! This is supremely bizarre to a girl from South Africa where you're lucky if the shops stay open till 3pm on a Sunday!

Also, I've noticed that the Tube is not like normal transport ... I mean yeah, there are peak times when it's packed to bursting but the traffic seems to not be in any sort of specific direction. It's not like Joburg where everyone is either a) trying to get to Jhb city center or b) Sandton in the mornings.

That's all that I've remembered so far :)

ps. Varen's one bonsai is flowering ... and he sold his bike on Saturday. Sad, but good news financially for him!

Weekend of Walking

So on Friday night I actually managed to get to the Hotel Gym for my 20 mins of cardio (replaced yesterday by those damn steps!). And in other exciting news, my first Amazon purchase had arrived ... 2 (fairly old) Computer Games: Caesar IV and Children of the Nile.

It's odd to me how disjointed all these deliveries from Amazon seem to be. Everything was in stock when I ordered but some things are being dispatched sooner than others and some things are being delivered by outside companies (like these 2 games). So there should be many days of Christmas and package opening while I'm here ;)

After all that excitement, I headed off to meet Kersh for dinner. It was interesting. I haven't seen or spoken to him since he moved over here 7 months ago. He suggested we try somewhere new (for him since everything here is new for me) and picked a Morroccan Restaurant called Zaytouna near Leicester Square.

We had a lovely evening together catching up on the office goss - most of the evening was spent swapping stories and revelling in the horror of Hopefully Separated Husband and the Secretary (sorry, PA :P).

I liked the food at the restaurant. Although, my Baba Ghanoush wasn't quite as I expected, my main meal was divine. I had Pastilla (Phyllo pockets of Chicken and almonds).

On Saturday morning I was up early - I haven't been sleeping that well here ... or I'm still on SA time cause I usually wake up at least an hour before my alarm is scheduled. And it's so dark behind these hotel curtains (not that the sun provides that much light5 thru the clouds) that it's hard to tell if it's morning or still the middle of the night :)

Anyway, after breakfast, I tubed off to the Huntertarian Museum at The Royal College of Surgeons. Now this may not be a familar one to most of you, indeed it wouldn't have topped my list if I hadn't read The Knife Man by Wendy Moore last year. But since I had, I made a special effort to look it up and proceeded to spend 2 and half hours perusing the collection. It's frightening to think that it is only a mere two thirds of what John Hunter had collected during his life time (a distant 214 years ago). It was fascinating. I wish I'd been allowed to take one specific photo ... one of the displays is of a baby's vein-system. It's this hanging twist of red filled veins in the perfect shape of a baby. It was spectacular. Also impressive was his collection of preserved babies in all the stages of development within the womb. I highly recommend this museum if this is remotely your thing. If it's not, steer well clear.

After that, I headed back to my hotel and for a wander down nearby Oxford Street with it's many shops. Sheesh, exhausting I'll tell you. My feet were absolutely screaming in pain after my afternoon wanderings. So it was again back to the hotel and into a hot hot bath for some remedy before I head out for a night at Ruby Blue with some old school friends.

I met Lopz and Nix there for a pretty good night out - aside from the fact that I was exhausted and my feet were protesting about being made to move. We enjoyed quite a few cocktails (thank goodness for half price specials) and caught up on all the news. It's kind of interesting seeing people from high school now that we're 10 years out. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I know I no longer live in Cape Town and have started on my own life but I still sort of feel like people must look at me and wonder what I've done with my 10 years? Okay, so it's not everyone that makes me feel like that, but certainly some people do. I guess it's because there are definitely people who I wonder what they did with their 10 years too. I mean I'm not the cliched "Mom" - I haven't even got married yet, let alone popped out a brood of kiddies. But I'm also not the cliched "Career Woman" - I'm kinda okay with my job, I earn a decent (some would say better than) salary and I travel once a year (mostly cause it's Rands I'm earning). So what am I? Fair enough, who wants to be a cliche but still ... where am I headed and what am I doing with my life? You see, sometimes seeing old friends who are in such different life-places can be dertrimental to your self-confidence.

And on top of all that they've been here ages and are all settled and I'm mostly feeling completely out of place and under-dressed. Imagine living your day to day life in South Africa but only being allowed to wear clothes from Pep Stores or Pick 'n Pay. It's kinda like that.

Anyway, aside from triggering my own journey of self doubt, it was lovely to see them both. It's probably the only time this trip I'll mange to see Lopz, unfortunately since she's off to sunny Cape Town on Friday :) Have a safe trip and finger crossed about that passport of yours!

Oh, and they messed up my bill at Ruby Blue but sorted it out super fast without one question. Impressive this first world service ;) Sunday I was up early again. The Divine Miss M was supposed to accompany me to the British Museum, but unfortunately the shoot she was working on this weekend was extended to Sunday :( In the end, I think it was better to have done it alone ... no feeling bad about rushing someone thru an exhibit they're really keen on that you aren't because your feet are dying (again!). I must've spent about 3 & half hours wandering it and my feet are still complaining! It was impressive ... although I think I'm jaded when viewing allthe Egyptian stuff I used to think was so cool after actually having been to Egypt and seen it all there already. Once you've been in the Mummy Room at the Egyptian Museum, no mummies will impress you again. And then there was all that pottery ... not really my thing. But I did enjoy it :) Although by the end I was once again exhausted.

Headed home to my hotel for some Google Talking with Varen and a bit of a rest. Went wandering Oxford Road (am determined to find myself a nice coat / jacket and some boots before I leave!) at around 5pm ... yes on a Sunday. The place was still packed with people, in the dark, because all the shops were still open. Had Burger King (I figure since I'm doing all this walking I'm allowed the occasional junk) for dinenr which was a huge disappointment. Kind of depressing really since I remember thinking how much better than MacDonalds it was when Iwas last over her (admittedly this was in 1997/1998 in the December holiday's after Matric ... a good 10 years back).

And that was my first weekend in London :) I need another just to laze about, rest my feet and do nothing - paha!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thurday Night Out

Here's a pic as I left work yesterday afternoon ... at 5pm. Yes, that's right, I know it looks far later in the evening than that.

After leaving work, catching the crowded tubes home (although less crowded than my morning trip, because I gather Londoners tend to work till about 6 /6:30pm), dropping my laptop off at the hotel and skipping Gym to watch Episode 10 of Grey's Anatomy (there was a looong line at the Concierge Desk to get the Gym Key, okay? But I paid for it later as you will see) I headed to Covent Garden Station to meet The Divine Miss M and two of her friends (midnightgem and Fligela).

It was at this point on the crowded tube (cause of delays) that I paid for skipping Gym. At Covent Garden there are lifts that take up up to street level, although as you can imagine when there are so many people queuing for the lift it's a rather lengthy waiting experience and I was already a little late (can't guestimate travel times very well here). So I followed a very few people who chose to take the stairs ... and as they warn you just before you start, there are 193 stairs. It is the never-ending spiral staircase of hell ... and I did it in high heels!

Anyhoo, I finally got to the street, admittedly breathless, and found The Divine Miss M. The four of us proceeded to the nearest Wagamama's for dinner.

Quite an interesting dining out experience. You sit on these long wooden benches next to random strangers and get served your dinner as it's ready. Which means nothing comes at once. In fact your "sides" (can't be called starters for this exact reason) generally seem to arrive mid-meal. I had their Yasai Katsu Curry (slices of sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash deep-fried in panko breadcrumbs, served with a light curry sauce and sticky white rice) and tasted their Ebi Katsu (deep-fried black tiger prawns in panko breadcrumbs. served with a spicy red chilli and garlic sauce, garnished with a wedge of lime) and their Gyoza (five steamed, grilled chicken dumplings filled with cabbage, Chinese leaf, Chinese chives and water chestnut, served with a chilli, garlic, sesame and soy sauce). Also tried their Plum Wine :) Was an interesting meal and mine had faqr more ricve than I knew what to do with. But otherwise very tasty :)

After dinner we wandered towards the Thames for a drink at Gordon's Wine Bar, the oldest Wine Bar in London (or so they claim). Here I enjoyed a glass of Chilean Wine ... picked specifically because I enjoyed it so much with Varen at The Bell Pepper. It was a completely crowded little place, but a nice vibe none the less.

Let me just point out right here that my feet are absolutely dying after all this walking (and the 193 steps) and standing around all night.

After our glass, we headed for a look over the Thames at night. That's a view of St Paul's Cathedral in the pic.

We also passed a truly hysterical sign that I had to take a photo of for all the folks living in Johannesburg ... a bit blurry without the flash, but otherwise I fell like too much of a tourist ;) Beware, thieves operate in this area.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Real London Workday

Last night I used up my expensive hour online chatting to my lovely man ... but I still wish he was here to keep me company. Oh well, I'm having to make do with Series and my books until I manage to organise a little socialising. Luckily I was so not in the mood for anything yesterday evening. I ordered in a little dinner (Carrot, Orange & Corriander soup - a tiny little bowl at a mere 100 ZA rond!) after a nice hot relaxing bath and then headed to bed.

Oh and here are those taps I was telling you about ... the picture didn't come out that well tho. basically there are three turning knobs. The top one (as per pic) is to control water flow to the shower head (not in pic). The middle one is to control temperature and the bottom one is to control flow to the bath spout (bottom of pic). It's an interesting system, but so far I like it :)

Today is a special day and the one I most wish I was back home with Varen ... it's his 26th birthday :) Have a good one my love, you know I'll be thinking of you. And I seriously apologise that you had no one there to wake up next to but go and water you bonsai gifts and remember just how much you mean to me :) Kiss.

I was up at my South African usual 6:40am (already past the start of your South African work-day tho!) and had my first hotel breakfast. Since I'm here for 16 days I'm pacing myself and stuck to the cereals and a muffin. Tomorrow I think I'll have an omlet tho. I can see I'm going to get sick to tears of hotel breakfasts by the end of this!

On the left is my view as I walk to my tube station :) I'm quite enjoying the walking to work in the morning, it makes a nice change to sitting in Joburg traffic for up to an hour! Although, the tube ride in was absolutely jam-packed, I barely manged to squeeze on when it arrived at my station this morn. But, by the time I got off it had thinned a little. You can tell the hardened Londoners a mile off, they're the ones standing reading their newspapers not holding onto a single bar for stability. Me, unless I've got a tight grab hold on at least two of them, I'm end up flying across the tube :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hotel Internet

So, here's my list of fun new food stuffs I've tried while here:

1. This Water and citrus
2. Feel Good Cloudy Lemon Juice Drink

Yeah, yeah ... so far I know it's only been water (sort of) but I like it and I don't feel so guilty for skipping the gym again this evening - I'm exhausted, okay.

It's costing me GBP 6 an hour to be online here in my hotel room ... and just to be entitled to pay that at the end of my stay, they had to "reserve" GBP 50 per night on my credit card. So there's 10 grand I can't touch for my entire trip - damn, shoulda done the math before I handed over my credit card! Will have to be transfering some desperation money in soon soon. Especially since I made my first purchase on Amazon UK :)

So now I just have to find somewhere to scrounge dinner, have a relaxing laze in the bath with my book and get to bed early ... yawn.

Oh, and I forgot to mention I watched Hairspray on the flight here. It's okay ... not quite as good as I was expecting after the little Jewish lady next to me told me she'd seen the musical twice and loved the movie too. Mild entertainment with the expected Hollywood Ending. Perfect for accompanying airplane meals :)

Here I Am

I made it ... after an hour delay at Joburg while we all sat on the plane in anticipation and a 2 hour delayed arrival time at Heathrow. The Heathrow Express, the cab ride to my hotel, checking in and handing over the GBP 2300 for my 2 & half week stay (eep!), unpacking and luxuriating in a much deserved hot shower (with the weirdest taps ever - will post a pic later). Being recognised as South African (must be the accent!) by hotel staff and promptly being responded to in Afrikaans every time after that (even tho I was speaking English. Getting myself an Oyster card for the tube and taking my 7 stops to The Office.

Here I am. Online and in London. Unfortunately I only have about 45% of my laptop battery left tho because I left my plug converter back at the hotel - Doh!

The offices don't seem as nicely decked out as the ones at home, there are no desk dividers or anything ... it's just wide open space. And their chairs are awfully uncomfortable! Although they do get two screens per person. Also the novelty of the fun UK food stuffs that you can't get at home has definitely kicked in :) And people here just aren't that friendly ...

And I'm tired ... even tho Virgin's Premium Economy class was a huge bonus, I still didn't get nearly enough sleep!

Ps. Brother Swoop has had himself all fixed up and although still in hospital is doing much much better (or so I hear).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Off To London

Righto folks, so this is a cheerio for now ... hopefully they won't keep my too busy over there and I'll have time for my 3 main work-time activites: Blogging, Chatting on GT & playing Kings of Chaos :)

But, until I'm safely there and settled in and back online, that's my excuse.

Medical License Found in Lucky Packet

So last night wasn't the night-before-I-leave-for-2-&-half-weeks I was expecting. We had to head of to Bedford Gardens Hospital because Brother Swoop had been admitted earlier in the day. (He had a quad bike accident, see here)

On Sunday at breakfast we'd heard that the shoddy doctor in Namibia hadn't done too good a job of resetting the bones in his hand and he was going in to have them checked yesterday. Turns out this "doctor" did an even worse job than expected ... Brother Swoop is going to need the bones in his hand re-broken and have pins put in. And have his collar bone re-broken and have a plate put in. On top of that, and the main reason he's been admitted and will be there till Thursday, is he had a litre of blood on his lungs that needed draining (seems the broken ribs have been scratching them or something?).

Anyhoo, I will try giving the doctor in Namibia the benefit of the doubt by saying perhaps he did as little as possible to get Brother Swoop up to travel-standards as soon as possible - since he did have to get back home to South Africa. And maybe if Brother Swoop had gone to the docs here a week ago when he first got back, things might not be so dire. But he's in the hospital now, getting the medical attention he requires and should be well on his way to mending properly by the end of the week - all things progressing as expected :)

So the rest of the evening was fairly quiet. Just me clinging onto Varen ... I don't want to leave now, things are so lovely and perfect and living together (although with it's ups and downs) has been blissful :) And now I have to leave it all for a place I don't know and people I've never met ... I'm a little nervous. But I'm equally excited to be seeing my friends over there (The Divine Miss M, Lopz & Nix at a minimum) and hopefully a day spent wandering the museums :) I'm so torn. On the plus side (plus?) I should be finding out exactly what work is expecting me to get done while I'm there a little later today. Fingers crossed it's manageable and won't eat into my socialising time too much :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekend At Home

Well, it was a good, but fairly quiet last weekend in Joburg before my UK work trip. We stayed in on Friday night and watched two movies, I Am Legend and Epic Movie (can't comment on the choice here as they were just what Varen had on his hard drive at the time).

The last man on earth is not alone
Robert Neville (Will Smith) is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable... and manmade. Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City... and maybe the world. But he is not alone. He is surrounded by "the Infected"-victims of the plague who have mutated into carnivorous beings who can only exist in the dark and who will devour or infect anyone or anything in their path. For three years, Neville has spent his days scavenging for food and supplies and faithfully sending out radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. All the while, the Infected lurk in the shadows, watching Neville's every move, waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind's last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But his blood is also what The Infected hunt, and Neville knows he is outnumbered and quickly running out of time.

I Am Legend wasn't a bad movie, but I don't think it was as good as it could've been. It's an interesting concept and they did amazing things with computer graphics putting you into deserted New York. Big pity about the dull ending :(

Epic Movie is a parody film that mainly spoofs some of the high-box-office-grossing films of 2005 and 2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, the Harry Potter film series, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, X-Men: The Last Stand, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Nacho Libre, Snakes on a Plane, Talladega Nights, Casino Royale, The Da Vinci Code, Mission Impossible 3, Superman Returns, the Star Wars series, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Shrek, Click, and Borat. It was made in a similar style to Not Another Teen Movie, Date Movie, and the Scary Movie series.

Blegh. Definite mindless entertainment. The most amusing part of this movie was spotting the originals that they'd spoofed :)

Saturday we were pretty busy with a lot of nothing really. We did buy some new fish and a new lily for the outside pond tho ... and move a helluva lot more of my stuff. The only problem is that although I can pack it up and bring it all to Varen's so far we've run out of space to unpack it since we have no additional furniture with shelves or drawers aside from the built-in cupboards in the two bedrooms. Right now the spare room is looking like a camping ground!

Sunday we had breakfast with Varen's family at Doppio Zero :) And then went and did ourselves a big shop. We spent a very relaxing afternoon alternately dozing, reading and watching Series. We also made a pretty impressive dinner for two ;)

And now I have to face the week ahead :( Am decidedly nervous about this UK trip since I still have no clue as to what they're expecting me to do over there and am also losing interest fast in my current job (dare I say I've already lost all interest?). Am seriously needing to get out of this stifling space and away from these annoying people! Have reached the point that there are only 2 people left that I work with on a day to day basis that I actually enjoy interacting with. Not a good sign, me thinks. Oh well, will address that along with the selling of the house issue upon my return.

Friday, January 11, 2008

2008 Bloggies

I have less than 24 hours for you to nominate my blog in the category "Best African Weblog" for the 2008 Bloggies. Please click the link and nominate Glad to be a Girl :)

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