Saturday, 3 December 2016

Wanderings Lately :: November

November was a great month this year! It started with a sneaky little Christmas cheer, through firework fun and then circled back around the Christmas joy!

I seem to have exactly the same situation as last year as I enter December, in that I have a slew of merriment plans ahead. I'm excited to spend a second Christmas in my house and at my job. Plus we might get some snow this year!

Fireworks






This year on the 5th November a big group of us (housemates and friends) got tickets to the Southwark Park fireworks display - it's free but you have to apply for tickets. Despite the massive queues for mulled wine, it was good fun. The display didn't last as long as the ones I've been to in Victoria park, but it was still fun to watch. I had also picked up some sparklers in tesco that day so we all had a good time after the fireworks waving them around!

After the display we headed to our local pub (which I've never been to before) for food. It was really nice afterwards to just wander across the road back home!

Autumn Cooking




I had a lot to do with food this month - well really i have a lot to do with food every month - but I took photos of it this time! Firstly, I tried this recipe for sweet potato brownies (weird but not unpleasant) and I've also started make a quick but tasty and healthy recipe - basically roasting different veg and mixing with grains. It doubles as a decent evening meal and great left over for lunch the following day! The meal pictured was also all the more enjoyable due to the wine accompaniment!

Bikes



















This month my bike woes worsened, as it just kept going wrong. When I bought my bike back in April 2015 I didn't really expect to be using it every day. But I have slowly come to rely on it more and more for getting about. I cycle to work most days, and often at weekends - depending on where I'm going. One evening in November I had plans with my brother for dinner at his house and to stay at his and cycle to work the following morning. It's pretty much the same distance from his to my work than it is from my house so it wasn't going to be much of a difference. 

My bike decided this was the perfect night for the chain to come off and wedge itself between the gear cogs and the wheel. Brilliant. It was so bad I couldn't move the wheel and I was effectively stuck. Big brother donned his cape and came to find me (so maybe it was good I was on the way to his!) the only way to free the chain was with brute force. 

Since then I've been into the local bike shop near work on three separate occasions. This is either because they haven't actually done the work I've asked for, or my bike has decided to break somewhere else! Definitely time to invest in a new bike! I could definitely do with an upgraded saddle as well (my bum can't take this current saddle much longer!)

Friends & Food









Yep, plenty of eating this month! First photo is of hotpot at Macey's. I don't think I have had hotpot since I left China so this was pretty enjoyable and it was nice to head out of the city to May's. 

Egg and avocado for breakfast at Chez frère

Eating dinner in an old tube carriage with my train buddy Mary.

and lastly plunging ourselves into a immersive theatre performance with food accompaniments in the Chambers of Flavour.

Work, work, work, work, work


the view from the loo...


In an attempt to recreate our staff outing from last year, we went out again on a team building/familiarisation visit at the end of November. This year we went to Shakespeare's Globe theatre, the View from the Shard and a whistle (whisper?) stop tour of St Pauls. We were also lucky that work also covered lunch at St George's Inn.

It's my turn to organise the next one so better get thinking of where to go!

Christmas Spirit

Bros before hoes... (and Santa only has one leg)


Starting with a fairly disappointing 'afternoon tea' (second picture), we ended November having put up or Christmas decorations (managed to coerce my housemates into doing it early this year!) Santa and Rudolf are hanging out on our living room coffee table. Santa is now disabled but he's not going to let anything stop him having a bauble! Ho ho ho!

::How was your November? Do you think it's too early for Christmas cheer? ::

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Wanderings Lately :: October

I really like October, as autumn is a beautiful time of year and I really love seeing all the leaves turn red, yellow and brown and drop from the trees. The weather is very  mild in the UK still, and cycling to work has been lovely this whole month.

This month; after some delay and obstacles I finally made it to Sarajevo -  somewhere I have been wanting to visit since I was young. I've also really appreciated having great housemates, attended a wedding and started back at Uni classes for my final MA module. 


This is all very different to this time last year, when I was making the transition from the job where I was made redundant, a short time temping and starting my new job at the beginning of November. This was also the start of these Wanderings lately posts, which I have actually managed to maintain! The summer might have been a little less frequent, but hurrah! I have actually published a post every month (except May) in 2016! Here's to many more and keep this little spot on the internet just for me! If you want to see this time last year, click here.



Travel









As I said in the intro, I visited Sarajevo (and Mostar) mid-October. This is somewhere I've wanted to go for a while - growing up Sarajevo was always on the news and later I studied so much about the media at war at university with a focus on the Bosnian conflict that I just wanted to go here and see it properly, in person; and have memories that weren't of burning tower blocks, mass graves or war crimes. I hope to write more about this trip, but I had a great time, in a wonderful city and it was nice to spend some time with Vanessa, my roomie from China who recently moved to Leeds.

ps I made a video of this trip. View it here.



Study



Classes started again for my MA, and I am really enjoying being back in the classroom. My dissertation was incredibly hard and took up a lot of hours trapped in the library. I am relishing being taught in a classroom, and seeing as this is supposed to be the first module, it is slightly easier than any I've had before. I love learning more about language, and actually part of me wishes I had gone with my gut at the beginning and studied a full applied linguistics MA rather than TESOL. It's easy to say that now, in hindsight, when I am not using the teaching part of this qualification.



Housemates


This month, my new housemate treated us all to a meal she prepared as a bonding evening together. The food was lovely, and company great. I am so happy to live in Canada Water, but I am also very happy and incredibly lucky, to have such great people to share the house with. It's such a nice environment to come home to after work or spend time in at the weekend. I've lived in a few different places where the connection with housemates is not too good, which really makes me appreciate this house and these girls. <3

Wedding



I went to a wedding this month, where the only person I knew was the bride. I was a little apprehensive about it, but there were a few others there who didn't know anyone and I had an introduction to a couple of girls beforehand, which made us all bond a little on the day. It turned out to be so much fun, and really lovely to attend another wedding - this is only my fourth one ever! I also recycled my bridesmaid shoes and jacket and this dress has attended two previous weddings/events... Can't say I'm not thrifty!


Autumn in London






 In the spirit of enjoying autumn as much as possible, I dragged Ayoola and Jasmin out for a walk along the park line in North London. I read about it on the time out blog, and it was a really nice walk. We begun at Finsbury Park station and walked the entire length to Alexandra Palace. It's always nice to meet friends for a good old catch up, and it was refreshing to be outside. Having such mild weather obviously helped and although this is still in the middle of the city, it truly felt like we were in a forest out in the country! 

I also took this last photo because it reminded me of the lamp post in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. In the middle of the forest without any rhyme or reason... Pretty sure this one wasn't accidentally brought back from another dimension by the white witch though.



::How have you been enjoying autumn? What was October like for you?::











Saturday, 29 October 2016

Barmy for Sarnies

A while ago I heard an announcement on the radio at work about a secret sandwich club on Tooley Street near London Bridge. A bit like a speak easy cocktail bar, but for crisp sandwiches... 

Fast forward a couple more weeks and my friend Siobhan mentioned the same club. We decided to head there to check it out. Sio bought the tickets online (£3.50) and we met outside the 'Chris Peters Newsagents' (nice word play there). It was pretty cool, and really; well done Walkers marketing department! 

Basically you walked into this 'normal' newsagents and told the guy behind the counter that you were 'Barmy for Sarnies'. He then slid across the wall display of crisps to reveal a hidden door behind which are a troupe of (very attractive) waiters and waitresses wearing aprons and bow ties made of crisp packets. 





We ordered our sandwich, drink and favourite flavour of their new crisp varieties. On the way out after lunch we stopped for a picture posing on the top of a large sandwich and then filled our arms with a packet of each flavour. These went down very well in my office!

It's obviously very gimmicky, but since it's no more than buying a sandwich in the tesco meal deal t's definitely a fun experience! Well done Walkers! It's closed now and the shop has once more become a nondescript house front.







Monday, 10 October 2016

Zero waste :: Successes

Further to my zero waste challenges, here are a few of my successes. It's hard, and I'm trying to make changes slowly so that they are more permanent changes, rather than trying to cut everything out and failing because that's not sustainable.

These are a few of the small changes I have adopted that have become part of life now. There are many many more ways I can (and will) change my lifestyle to produce less waste and lessen my impact on the environment. But I thought since I listed my challenges, I would also celebrate my successes!


Coffee To Go

Since I got this cup for Christmas I have used it A LOT. There have been a couple of times when I forgot it, and I have taken a paper cup. But those times are few and far between. In fact I have been documenting every time I use the cup and am planning to put together a little video of all the photos as a reminder of all the cups I've refused!

I also love using this cup because not only do I now prefer to drink out of it, I'm now not a walking advert for the coffee shop! No one knows where I bought my coffee! It's just me and my cool mug strutting down the street! Since I'm photographing it, I've also started to think more about what I want as the background of my shot! All very sad and arty but fun as well!


Water

 I have three water bottles - two camelbaks and one glass apana bottle. I use these all the time. I have found that there are many, many places to fill them up and this has increased the amount of water I drink resulting in far better skin. All round this has been a great change!




Clingfilm

I don't use clingfilm really any more. I've realised that there is never really any need to. If I am warming something in the microwave, I just cover the top with another plate. I use Tupperware boxes in the fridge, I have 3 glass ones as well which cuts out plastic somewhat). 

If I really need to wrap something, I will choose foil instead of plastic wrap since I can wash it and then recycle it. I have also seen this beeswax paper stuff that looks intriguing and I 
may experiment with in the future.


Cleaning

I have adopted a couple of zero waste tricks in the bathroom that I am pretty happy with. Firstly. My floor cleaner is now castille soap. This little bottle has lasted for a long time, and it acts a just a floor cleaner for now, but I will be rolling this out to clean the rest of the bathroom once my method spray has run out - incidentally method is eco-friendly too.

More importantly (and used for longer) are my cloths. I've never really used many disposable wipes, but I wouldn't have actively avoided them before now. However, I am now consistently using these micofibre clothes, and a scrubbing sponge. Once they've been used, I just chuck them in the wash. Maybe lots of people use these, but I list this as a successful zero waste addition as I am very conscious of using them this way now.

Lastly, I have invested in these reusable cotton pads which eliminate the need for face wipes or cotton wool balls. They come with the little cotton bag to hold them all together when they are in the washing machine. I also used this bag when I washed out my sponge last time. Worked a treat!


Zero Waste. Period.


The cup is inside this bag. I didn't think it appropriate
to take a picture of my used cup and post it on
the internet for everyone to see...
I haven't bought tampons for about 8 months. This has helped lessen my environmental impact, but more significantly it has saved me a tremendous amount of money. I've actually been using the diva cup for around 2 years, but I was using it in conjunction with tampons, but now I don't really use tampons at all. I have a few left over still, and these serve as emergencies incase I am caught at work or out and about without the cup - so I keep a couple in my bag.

There's basically only gains to be had from using a menstrual cup. I had read this before, and was put off by the need to empty the cup. However I've since got over that, and I wouldn't really want to go back to tampons now. They are bad for your body, carry the risk of developing TSS (and dying...) plus they are extraordinarily bad for the environment. I'm also not clear on whether the tax on tampons has actually been scrapped... I don't much care anyway since I no longer buy them.


Toothpaste

So I did have the disaster with the glass jar, and it did melt during those hot summer months but... I have made my own toothpaste and use it every morning. This has been a success. I checked this through with the dentist and she approved it. After I'd been using my own toothpaste for 6 months I had another check up and everything was still ok. 

I like this recipe because it makes as actual paste rather than the usual tooth powders. I'm sure they are just as effective but I like that this is more similar to what I am used to. I haven't completely migrated to this paste, since it doesn't have any fluoride and I'm not convinced that we get all that we need from our water. However, by introducing this into my routine I have halved the amount of toothpaste tubes I personally put into landfill.

Bike

This is me on a bike in Cambodia, since I don't
have a photo of my current bike!
I've had a bike since last April. I use it everyday. I try to ride all the way to work at least twice a week, and recently t's been much more. I'm a bit of a fair-weather cyclist so if it's raining I am put off. However, even if I'm not going all the way to work, I cut out any bus emissions from my journey by cycling to the station. 

This isn't exactly zero waste, as I wouldn't be driving anyway. But cycling is better for the environment and my health and I feel it is an added bonus of this kind of lifestyle! :-)
 ::Are you conscious of your environmental impact? Are you trying to be less wasteful? Let me know your successes below and feel free to share any tips of things that you love doing/using that are good for the environment!::


Monday, 3 October 2016

Wanderings Lately :: September

Well I missed a couple of months, but things are back on track for this last quarter of the year! September was a transitionary month, things switched a gear at work - all the Summer groups are well and truly finished with and we're now planning all our programmes for 2017. My brain is already quite far into next year and I've already made some bookings for March!

The weather has started it's transformation from warm sunny days to colder, damper autumn. The nights have started to get longer and more leaves are littering the pavement. I love this time of year though, along with many others if the many articles online are anything to go by! 

This month started with some fun in Oxford for my brother's birthday and had ended with a long work meeting in Oxford which meant I wasn't home until after midnight! It wasn't all bad though, as I took the time back the following work morning and only had half a day! 

October is probably my favourite month, as autumn really starts to take hold, and we slide along into days with beautiful sunsets and cosy nights in. I'm also starting my final module of my MA, if the university ever gets back to me with the class info, and I have a cheeky little break to Bosnia planned as well! 

Korean nibbles

I found a little Korean shop on Tottenham Court Road this month and was very excited to buy a little box of kimbap for my lunch. Although I have had kimbap since coming back to the UK from Korea (as I was reminded after posting this photo), this felt very authentic as it was actually cheap (£1.99) and from a 7-11 type shop. It took me right back to the corner shops in Asia.

I also bought some weird flavour crisps, pepero and face masks in the same shop. I have to limit my visits there because otherwise I am likely to spend all my spare cash there!


Family time

At the beginning of the month I went up to my brother's house to celebrate his and our Nan's birthdays. We had a lovely weekend celebrating together, even taking a little boat ride on Sunday afternoon. True to form, I annoyed my family by snapchatting them all with silly filters. They do moan, but secretly I know they love it!





Netball

I've been back playing netball since 2013, and after having jumped around in different teams and leagues, am now quite settled in Southwark. Last season our team; Vauxhall Vixens, finished the league as unbeaten champions. I was pretty chuffed when this medal arrived in the post. Unfortunately I am now out for the remainder of this season because the games clash with my classes for my final uni module. But so far we're still unbeaten and who knows, I might end up with a second medal (since I'm still part of the team!) for this season!



Fancy a Sarnie?

Completely buying into marketing and gimmicks, Siobhan and I met one lunchtime outside an unassuming newsagents near London Bridge station to make our way into a clandestine cafe to enjoy a cheeky sandwich and crisps. We also got our photo taken atop a giant sandwich. Why aren't all work-day lunches this fun??



Open House

A full post is in the works on this, but Sio and I also decided to check out Open House London, and although it wasn't fully up to our expectations we still enjoyed our day wandering around the Piccadilly area, even if Sio did cheat at chess in Waterstones.



Oxford

I went to Oxford in the last week of September. I had to attend an evening meeting to discuss my two programs next spring. It meant that I didn't board the bus back to London until 10pm and consequently got back home and into my bed after midnight - loooooong day. The upside to this was that I had to following morning off of work, and since I was in the weekly routine I still woke up early enough to make the most of the time at home. I also managed to enjoy a couple of hours in the sunny afternoon in Oxford. Taking some photos for our student handbook and expensing (most of) dinner at the wonderful Perch pub. One of the perks of my job that make the coach journey and late night so worth it!