Thursday, 30 May 2013

Weekend Activities

Having recently begun working full-time, I have been struck by the novelties of bank holidays. During my gap years before Uni, bank holidays were often times I still had to work, due to my jobs, but now...well now I can be one of those thrilled working people with an extra day off.

As my housemates were all leaving London I decided to join one of them in her visit to her family in Eastbourne. We wandered around the village of Battle, admired the view of the sea from Birling Gap, and rummaged through the most decadent and delightful book shop that I may have ever come across. 
City Dwellers by the Sea

Birling Gap
Camilla's Bookshop
 I love a good adventure, and whilst this one was only about two days worth of excitement, it was great to just jump on a train and get out of the City. I've been to Eastbourne once before, but it was in the pouring rain and I slept on a church floor in an industrial estate for a student weekend. Fun, but not really the kind of adventure I felt like this weekend. We finished our trip by reading the Sunday papers over coffee before heading back to London for church in the afternoon. 

An old friend from home happened to be in London, so I met with him for lunch before going to church, and we battled our way through the crowds of the Southbank, admiring the man playing the tuba with fire, and grabbing food from one of the street vendors that had parked up as part of the mini food festival. The sun was baking, and as we sat on one of the tiny parts of grass left available, I had to marvel at the scores of people you could fit on a riverbank. In the evening a few of us headed up to one of my favourite spots overlooking the City, and watched the sunset. When you get views like this, you can kind of understand why it's one my favourite places to be. 

The Shard at Sunset
The rest of the bank holiday was spent food shopping, and then picnicing in Greenwich. Though south of the river, Greenwich is easy to get to from my house, so we decided that with the sun blazing it was the perfect opportunity to sunbathe and read for the afternoon. With the help of scones and clotted cream. Obviously. 

When you live in a place with around 8 million people, you find that it's not very common to bump into people you know. Granted, near Uni that's a bit different, but generally speaking it just doesn't happen. You can imagine my surprise then to discover two friends from my course sat 10 metres away in Greenwich park! 
Green green Greenwich

Anyhow, the sun has hid itself behind clouds since Monday, and with work and such, I've not had much to blog about. Our student Connect group did pop out for pizza last night, which was a great chance to catch up with all the folk that had finished exams. This weekend there are more picnics planned, and a street party, organised by one of my neighbours! Lots to look forward to I feel. 

Until then...! 

Peace and love xo

Friday, 24 May 2013

Friday Feeling

It's been a rather quiet week, which was exactly what I needed after the madness of the last weekend. I started working full-time this week, which has been super fun, possibly because my time is really flexible and I so I've still managed to do some fun things. 

Also probably because my new office is next to Bond Street Station, five floors up with a stunning view over Oxford St. I'll try and sneak a picture next week, I was behaving myself as the new girl...! Still, it's scary, and I'm doing things I have no idea how to begin, but I am loving it. 

Highlights of the week include a spontaneous coffee with my bestie, who I bumped into whilst doing a few chores in Westfield. There's an incredible little coffee shop on the ground floor at the back, that does incredible drinks. It's a shame about the location, but makes a change to the ugly Starbucks when you walk through the front doors. 
Love a Latte

Later that evening a friend of mine cooked dinner for me and the rest of the leadership team that head up a Student Connect group at church. We're about 20-30 students that are seeking to know God better and reflect His love in our city. The team I lead with our stunners, inside and out, and with everyone so busy it's been hard to get together. Still, we had some green thai curry, a terrible banoffee pie made by moi (condensed milk DISASTER) and lots of wine. This was our view. 

Regents Canal and Canary Wharf

And now it's Friday. I'm heading to Eastbourne with one of my housemates tonight to meet her family and have a day or so in the countryside. I'm rather excited, and even though it means I'm leaving my beloved London, I have a feeling she'll cope without me (especially with the descending tourists for the bank holiday).

So, I'll update you on my adventures upon my return. Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the extra day off!

Much love


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Birthday Times

Last week was my twenty second birthday, and my friends took it upon themselves to thoroughly spoil me. Needless to say, I had no problem with their decision.

Wednesday morning I was woken up with breakfast and a big pile of presents, and sat in bed surrounded by my house-mates. I love gifts, there's something incredibly special when somebody chooses to give you something. My house-mates truly out-did themselves though, buying me a stunning black dress, a necklace, a watering can and some stationery. I felt 5 again, carefully peeling back the corners of the wrapping paper in anticipation. 

Breakfast and Cards

We spent the day in South Kensington, munching on cupcakes in The Hummingbird Bakery and visiting the Natural History Museum and the V&A. One of the things I love most about London, is the free access to stunning history and culture. I've lost count of the hours I've spent strolling through the grand halls of the museums and marvelling at the world that has been captured in the cabinets. It makes my heart sing to see so much beauty in one place, and I loved spending my birthday there. 
Four different types of cake

Rhinos! But with fake horns in case of stealing.
After running home in rush hour, we threw some different clothes on and headed out to meet friends at a cocktail bar near Spitalfields. We had a corner of the bar reserved and packed as many people as possible around a couple of tables and packed it with drinks. Later in the evening, the cheesy music got increasingly loud and so we created our own little dance floor. Surrounded by such lovely friends, I was a very happy lady. 

Birthday dress

One of my besties

Over the weekend, our house threw it's first party. We use our house for numerous things, including a student community at church, and our house is forever full of people. I'm surprised when it's only the people that live here that are sat in the lounge! We bought a BBQ, everyone else bought meat and we spent the night toasting marshmallows and dancing away. Rather amazingly, a car full of my closest friends from home drove all the way from Bournemouth to London, turning up on my doorstep in what was quite possibly the biggest shock I have ever had. It's times like those that remind me of the incredible blessings that I have in my life. 
My Bournemouth Girls, all together
BBQ and Bunting
The girls I live with.

It was an exciting week. There was so much London fun, it reminded me again just why I love this city so much. I took a couple of the girls I went to school with into Victoria Park for breakfast - one of the places I consider at the heart of East London. We say by the lake, drank some of the best coffee known to man, and admired the wide green spaces. Not exactly what most people associate with an urban centre. But it's all about knowing where to look. 

It's been a rather great few days, and I definitely couldn't imagine spending a birthday better. So if you were with me, or sent me cards, messages, presents and love, thank you. I had a great time. 

Much love x

Monday, 29 April 2013

Getting Creative

Being an English student has a number of benefits. Aside from the extensive reading that I get to do (note to self: must remember this is a privilege and opportunity!) and the very flexible timetable, I also have no exams. Yes that's right. Whilst every other students seems to be revising their socks off, my work is confined to essays. Granted there have been several thousand words to write, and I've got several thousand more but all in all, I'm feeling quite relaxed.

Which is quite a blessing, as it's given me space to start an internship (and a paid job soon! I found out today!) This weekend I decided to take some to chill out after a bit of a mad week. I spent the day pottering about the house, watching copious amounts of Gilmore Girls and doing some sewing. 

I got bought a sewing machine last year, and love it. Whilst at home over Easter I bought some new fabric, and have been eagerly hoping to find some time to use it. I kept things simple, but I have a new bag and some new cushions and I'm feeling rather proud. 

Tote bag

Bedroom cushions
As said, I've been feeling kind of creative this week. Earlier today I was reading an article about how detrimental social media can be. And in lots of ways I agree. Internet friends aren't real friends, and jealous becomes an instinct when you spend hours browsing someone else's exotic holiday snaps. And yet I've found that it helps me see beauty in things that normally I would only give a passing glance to. Like these roses. Those moments of joy are extended when you take a photo, when you share it or when you return to it. And I like that. 

Rosy flowers
Anyhow Gilmore Girls has been put on again so I'm going to join the housemates in drooling over Jesse. Fictional? Meh...!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Rocking the Lobster Look

Oh gosh, it is Friday, and I am sat in front of a computer. I have been for most of the day, and as the Senate House Library database has crashed *panic and sob all at once* I am taking a break from the studying. To the blog I say!

This week has been a little full on, as I've begun working three days a week for an internship. The other days I'm attempting to complete second year Uni things...and maybe have a social life! As if. Fortunately lots of people are in the middle of exam season and aren't off doing too many fun things without me. (Some friends did go see QI being recorded this week which I definitely thought was a great idea!)

One of my favourite things this week has been the sunshine. It's been glorious. For someone that lived her life at the beach, splashing in the sea and soaking up the sun, summer quickly became my favourite time of year. It's been so many long, cold, damp months of winter, but fiiinally, the bright, glorious sun has got his hat on and has come out to play. 

And I got burnt. 

In April. 

I am now rocking the lobster look (stupid vampire skin of mine!)

Anyway, disregarding my current tomato impression, I love the first few weeks of spring because of the change it brings in everyone. The whole of London has been outside, basking in the warmth, getting out the flip flops and donning sunglasses and big smiles. There's something about change that just gets everyone excited. This week it's felt like the whole city is buzzing with expectation, and I love it. 

On Tuesday, I did a ton of shopping. All the things that I've been in need of for ages. Like a mirror...Yes that's right, I've not had a mirror since I moved into my house in September. I think it's a miracle I've not left the house in rainbow colours and pyjamas every day really. I also bought a rug to brighten up my oh-so-white bedroom, and lots of new make up. My favourite thing is my new lipstick, which is called 'Summer Pink' which I felt was rather fitting. It looks kind of like this... 

Tuesday also involved an afternoon of gardening! Apparently, I've inherited the family love of planting things, and had the most domestic, green-fingered day, digging up weeds, turning over the soil and planting new seeds. I am incredibly excited to see things grow. Nature is a bit crazy, and I am still trying to get my head around the idea that some teeny, tiny, dots of brown might grow into beautiful flowers. 

This week I spent rather a lot of time on the Southbank. Thursday in particular, was rather glorious. After finishing work, I headed to meet my lovely friend Suzie and succeeded in distracting her from revision, for the sake of chats and discussions. Hurrah. We decided to wander along the river, getting distracted by the book market that lives outside the BFI and then walking all the way up to St Paul's to get home. I kept crossing bridges, and being blown away by the way the city sprawls so invitingly, defined by its' skyline; the financial district to the East, Westminster (funnily enough) to the West, and all sorts of arts and cultural things right in the middle. St Paul's was looking particularly majestic in the early evening light...

This week has been a week to be thankful, of some great friends and numerous other blessings. No, life isn't easy, but there are moments of outstanding beauty if you know Whose eyes to look through. 
So it may be Friday, and I may be scribbling away on a dissertation proposal (yes that is a year in advance you crazy uni!) but I am also aware that there is much, much to be joyful about.

Monday, 22 April 2013

How to do Spring

Evening all!

So I've been back in London for a week, and the past seven days have been surprisingly hectic. Uni is still ongoing, although with no structure, I'm learning that I need to get things done by myself. I managed to research and write an essay in between starting my new internship, and taking part in some exciting things with the ParliaMentors programme I'm on. 

But, just to fill you in, I had an incredible Easter break, full of the outdoors, the most delightful and beautiful places in Dorset, good friends and good conversations. It was pretty hard to leave. Here are a couple of highlights...

Trudging through the New Forest

Naturey lichen.

On top of the world in Warbarrow Bay

Lyme Regis
Since arriving back in London, I've embarked on one of those overwhelming weeks where I feel more than a little out of my depth, and whilst everyone tells me that's a good thing, it is beyond uncomfortable. In the midst of it all, I've been challenged about trust - the difference between accepting something is true, and actually letting it change you. When you get to trust in God, it means that there is a life of hope, promise and adventure available. I need to get better at not just knowing this, but putting it into practice with all of the things going on in life. Mission for the week ahead I believe.

In an ideal world, this is what we hope to see.
This weekend I had a packed day of dreaming and planning about the student group I help to run. It was a great day of strategising, looking at diagrams and chatting to our team, getting excited about what God might want to in the next six months, as well as years down the line. There's something incredibly exciting about putting these plans together in a building off of Oxford Street on a sunny spring day, the rest of the world passing by as we all sat about thinking about how much we want to see this city made even better than it is. Kinda surreal.

Housemates and cocktails - perfect combination.
  Saturday evening, a friend had organised a private party at The City of London Distillery, an incredible gin bar, tucked down a small lane in one of the oldest parts of London. We arrived slightly late, and by that time the place was heaving with people dressed in snazzy clothes, clutching cocktails and G&Ts. They make their gin on site, and boy was it good. I'd love to pop in there on another evening to see who else was about, but the bar staff were ultra friendly and that's always a plus. 

Gin Distillery
After all of that, I felt it was about time that I had a lie-in and a bit of a rest. This morning I finished the latest Neil Gaimon book I've picked up, and I can thoroughly recommend. Perhaps because it's set in London, I'm a little biased, but the way he blends fiction and reality absolutely blows me away. He writes about a 'London Below', which consists of society's outcasts, every person in the city that drops away, falls beneath the cracks, is ignored by the system. And then he creates an entire universe, showcasing skills and abilities, personalities and adventure. Needless to say I was blown away. 

My afternoon was spent sitting in the sun, with iced coffee before heading to church and then to the pub. It's been the restful day every one should get to have before heading into another manic week. 

What have you been up to?


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Weather-themed Groaning.

Whilst it is technically British Summer Time (yes apparently that happened) it certainly doesn't feel like that. I'm getting a little disillusioned with winter - it seems to be greedily demanding far too much of my year, and whilst I enjoy the first few months of good knitwear, hot chocolate and film evenings, by April I'm eager for flowers, picnics and a tan. 

Since arriving home on Saturday there's been a few glimpses of sunshine, and like the fool I am I've assumed that they've meant warmth. Apparently not. I've gone on a few brisk winter walks, through the New Forest and over Hengistbury Head, sunglasses in hand, in the hope that I don't look too ridiculously mish-mashed with all of my layers. 
Light breaks through the gloom.
An avenue of trees in Holmsley
On Tuesday I caught up with a good friend from London that also lives locally. It was so, so good to meet and talk away from the buzz and crazy environment of the City. We sat on the top of Hengistbury Head discussing life, and the things God is speaking to us about, and gazing at the horizon. There wasn't a tower block in sight, just clear blue ocean. Perfection. 
Pretend Summertime

Hengistbury Huts

Yesterday became a day to bake and relax in a friend's warm kitchen. Another London friend, but someone I've known since we were 11. It was great to see her family, and spend time in a place that I lived in almost as much as my own home as we were growing up. We made bread, and then attempted macaroons. Sadly we were lacking ground almonds, and had to lessen our ingredients, which resulted in some not very peaky egg whites. Needless to say, the cake below is not so much a macaroon, but a red velvet ring...with almond flavouring. I was pleased that we managed to salvage something out of the baking wreckage, and for unintentional cake it was pretty tasty!

Baking Endeavours
I hear that it's begun snowing in London. It makes me glad that I'm not there. I have no time for that crunchy white stuff when there have been years when I've been swimming in the sea by this time. So I'm going to continue my hibernation with some reading and a hot cup of tea. I'm not sure there's much else to be done right now!