Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Wanderings Lately :: March 2019

March felt like a very long month, packed full of travel, outings in London and getting ill abroad. This post in incredibly late, mostly because I was not feeling great and in the past month I've only been at home for one week. 

I love travelling. I've made it a priority in life (when money allowed) for the last 10 years or so. It's the reason I started blogging all those years ago to let everyone at home know what I was up to in China. But my last two trips with work were probably the most stressful, and un-enjoyable I've ever had. Firstly I had to rearrange my first trip to Moldova very last minute because my passport had not yet been returned from the Russian embassy (having applied for a visa to visit in April). I therefore missed the beginning of the interviews where I was supposed to sit on the panel. I had to take an overnight flight to Chisinau, transferring in Istanbul and then go straight to the interviews practically from the airport.
I caught a cold from one of the other panel members, which got steadily worse and after a 6 hour layover in Istanbul again on the way to Tirana turned into a flu bug that knocked me out the first full day in Tirana. I have not been that ill for years and years, and to feel so bad but not be at home or with any other people was horrible. I tried to see a doctor but that was impossible and I managed to get some medication but it wasn't particularly effective. I spent the following week feeling totally rotten with a terrible cough and blocked nose - not brilliant for concentrating for six hours a day in interviews.

Once home, I had a full on week seeing a few friends, with family and preparing at work for the next week of travel whilst catching up from the two weeks before.

I'm now in Moscow, which has also had its challenges. Being able to travel for work is a privilege, and I am grateful for a job that allows me to experience a little of places that I probably wouldn't have visited otherwise. But after these last couple of trips, all I want is to get back to my familiar routine at home. I wouldn't mind a cup of tea either.

Spring Sun







The Saturday that I should have been travelling to Moldova, was spent instead at Wisely RHS Garden. It was the beginning of some sunny weather and spring arriving in the UK. Even Victor seemed to enjoy wandering around the gardens!

At the beginning of the month I took an afternoon trip to Birmingham to see my uni girls. I didn't really see much of the city, but it's always a fab time catching up with the girls and especially when we are all about to make it. Life often gets in the way, but those long-lasting friendships are ones to savour.

The filigree girls also had our first outing of the year to the pub is London with the best views but worst service. Sitting by the river, in the sunshine with a cider was a nice afternoon in London.


Tirana







The weather in Tirana was amazing. I didn't see much of it, but I could see out of the window that the sun was shining! One afternoon I managed to wander around for an hour or so. My impression of the city was pretty good. Lots of cafes with outside space where the young population were sitting out a socialising. 

There was a huge. derelict pyramid. Previously the headquarters of the NATO operations during the Kosovo conflict. although originally built as a museum. I feel it could make a great home for a swimming pool.

Other things I noticed in Tirana; all the electricity boxes were decorated with street art. I went past a piece of the Berlin wall, and war time bunkers dot the city.

Chisinau





I really liked Chisinau. It's very small, and easy to walk around the city. I visited a museum which was pretty terrible, noticed many of the buildings are run down and the pavements are awful (this is the same in all the non-EU eastern European cities I've so far visited). But Chisinau had a charm about it. There were lots of little cafes and the walk to work for me was through two large tree filled squares. 

Moldova is an established wine region (who knew!) and there were lots of opportunities for wine tasting. Unfortunately as I was feeling grim I didn't bother to spend money on any whilst I was there. If I managed to get back in the future I would definitely do that though, and hope to have time to take a day trip out to one of the wine groves as well.

Chisinau charmed me, despite it being the source of my cold and miserable visit in Albania!

Dior







Finally, I went to the Dior exhibition with my mum just before the end of March and it was excellent. I really liked how the exhibition was displayed and although it was very busy - took us a while to even enter! It wasn't too overcrowded inside.

I definitely preferred all the Dior originals to the later designers who took over after his death, although this red coat was from Raf Simons and I loved it! John Galliano's designs were definitely not in keeping with the originals, and the current creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri seemed to have some nice designs and vision more like Dior.

We also went up to the members' room for lunch after the exhibition, which was also incredibly busy. It wasn't the greatest of experiences - I think the British Museum is better - as the room was cold and they had no provision for dietary requirements. I had been trying to eat a vegan diet but they had nothing on the menu that was vegan and when I asked what options they could provide I was offered an artichoke sandwich - not very appealing! Definitely could do better in the members room. The other main cafe is a wonderful space though.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Birthday 2019

I felt my birthday this year deserved a post of it's own! I read a thought piece online at the beginning of the year (can't find it online now) that was all about how it's a privilege to have a birthday and we should continue to celebrate - in whatever way that looks best to us - but to mark it in some way.

So this year, I took the day off and made plans for the day. Victor suggested lunch in Hutong, a fancy Chinese restaurant in the Shard. Since I enjoy Chinese food and love going to the top of tall buildings this was something I was definitely on board with.

I started the day with one of my favourite things; a walk through Russia Dock Woodland. Heading up Stave Hill to take in a slightly gloomy view over London. Before back home to get ready for out posh lunch.

The food in Hutong was excellent, particularly my starter of Shandong chicken and our main of spicy soft shell crab. We were luckily seated at a window table facing out over my side of London (looking east). My only criticisms are that for fancy toilets there was no hand cream (which I wanted to take advantage of!) and unsurprisingly the authenticity was undermined somewhat by the misplaced lions at the entrances - Chinese entrances often have two lions either side of the front door. A male and female; which you can tell because the female has a lion cub under one foot and the male a ball. In Hutong one entrance had two males and the other two females. #fail

After our lunch, I dragged Victor over to monument as climbing to the top has been on my list of things to do for some time! It was definitely more of an undertaking than I anticipated, still feeling full after lunch, but we managed it and even got a certificate to prove it when we got safely back to the bottom. The views were good, although obviously completely overshadowed by all the surrounding skyscrapers. Interesting to think how this would have been one of the tallest structures when it was first constructed and now it's so dwarfed by everything else around it.

For the rest of the afternoon we wandered slowly down to the Tower of London, stopping off for a quick drink by the Tower itself before jumping on the riverboat back to Rotherhithe. A truly lovely day, and well worth the celebration.

Although it was cloudy, it was still quite bright!

Looking over at his office.




These were not good :-(




Sunday, 3 March 2019

Wanderings Lately :: February 2019

February is my favourite month, like I've said before. This year there was no 'Beast from the East', only some good days and some excellent days! The days are getting longer and I celebrating my birthday with a few standout events. Even squeezed in a cheeky trip to Scotland.


Socially Spring





Stepped up my social committee game again this month and finally arranged for a work drinks night. Very well attended and those two glasses of wine before netball seemed to help my performance later in the night!

All in the name of spring!


Home




After a particularly busy and stressful day at work this month, I decided to take a short detour on my journey home and cycle next to the river. London did not disappoint me and I was priviledged to witness a beautiful sunset.

I met up with some friends recently, and as we chatted about how wonderful the weather has been recently (problematic if considered why this has happened - climate change) we agreed how utterly magical London is in the sunshine, the city comes completely alive. This city has many faults, but when the sun comes out it's quite difficult not to love London.

Nothing feels more homely and comforting to me than a cup of tea when you get back home. Long journey back from Edinburgh this month, followed up with a brew as soon as we got in. Lovely!

Edinburgh








 
My third time in Edinburgh, including a return to the botanic gardens - and lucky to see a few early spring blooms. A flight over Edinburgh taking in the city from the air and some relaxed and un-rushed time in a really great city.

I also spent quite some time trying to get a decent picture of the Edinburgh sign at the airport - I do think some people just stand in the way on purpose! 

Won't be long before we're back.


Birthdays




Jasmin and I share a birthday month, so after celebrating by winning a round of the wonderfully weird game 'cash and guns' and enjoying a piece of Lola's delicious cake it was my turn! 

My birthday was spent celebrating with lunch in the Shard, brunch with my friends and cheese and wine with my family. Made a post all about the actual day here!


Friday, 15 February 2019

Wanderings Lately :: January 2019