Monday, 1 October 2018

Wanderings Lately :: September 2018

September, the beginning of autumn! Although this month has mostly been wonderful weather-wise. We've enjoyed the last days of warm weather out in the square at lunchtime. Netball started again this month, and I'm so very happy to be playing again! September (and the beginning of October) always feel like a time of renewal, especially since I work in the heart of the education area in London. The new academic year kicks off, freshers are roaming the street and the seasons clicks into a new phase. 

I love autumn, and spring because they signal a transition. The anticipation of something new, different, a change. I am looking forward to the colder, crisper days walks in the beautiful foliage and the promise of something new.


This month's edition of catching up with friends... our first get together since Siobhan got married. All the uni girls back together, pottery painting, wine drinking and pizza eating (what we do best!). Venturing out to Surrey for a vintage party with Carola and getting a super swish pin roll in my hair. Finally, a birthday at work which took us for lunchtime fluffy Japanese soufflé pancakes.

September was good to me friends wise.

Open House

Open house weekend 2018 was a massive wash out, so much rain! I had a half and half successful weekend. On Saturday I went to Lancaster House, which was super interesting and a great place to snoop inside of. It's been the filming location of lots of period dramas; The Crown, The King's Speech, Downton Abbey. It's also where the FCO take foreign dignitaries to impress them - so Obama, Merkel and other politicians have been here as well as royalty.

ON the second day, I went to a renovated Georgian house which ended up just being a tour around someone's house and explanation of why particular floorboards were chosen. So better luck next year! Perhaps I'll get into Downing Street in 2019!

More weddings

As the beginning of September us London family headed up north to see my cousin get married. It was a lovely day, and always nice to get together with family you don't see much. My homemade dress also made another wedding appearance... I may never need to buy another wedding outfit!


I love seeing a city view from a tall building, and this month I went to an event on European Day of Languages all about how best to learn a foreign language. I may not improve my Chinese much after the visit... but it was worth while for a view alone. Especially since we were there during golden hour when the city was bathed in the beautiful setting sun. 

Monday, 3 September 2018

Wanderings Lately :: August

August has been pretty insane, and thinking back to the beginning of the month and our staff party seems a really long time ago! This summer month has been buuuusy, but in the best way. I've seen two sets of friends get married, reunited with people I met 10 (!) years ago, and survived a weekend away with my family. Those are just the weekends, but I've been no less busy during the week, open mic, netball wins & awards and the aforementioned staff party.

Summer 2018 has been a busy one, and definitely a good one. The heat wave has me very much ready for some cooler autumn weather too.


Two good friends of mine got married this month within a week of each other. Two very different celebrations but both equally fun days. Thankfully the weather was excellent for both of them - a bit of rain in the evenings but nothing that affected the main event!

I spent a lot of time on the motorway this month - the 7 hours it took to get to Crewe was particularly bad! 


Quite chuffed with a few things this month; first (and maybe only over) acapella song at open mic. My brother has resigned from the open mic night he ran at a pup in Borough so I went along to the last one there making the brave/insane decision to sing Your House by Alanis Morissette. We also did a couple of others with guitar backing.

I wore the dress I made to the weddings I went to this summer, and it was comfy (and got lots of complements!)

We had out Netball end of season awards - which our team didn't win anything at but looking for more success in the winter league! In preparation for our (hopefully success-filled) next season we finished off the summer league with a win of 41-4, that was definitely a boost for us all!

Lastly, I made a completely vegan chocolate cake that didn't taste dry and nasty. I followed this recipe and it really is very simple and comes out just like a normal sponge.

Spice Up Your Life

I happened to see a post from a friend of mine on facebook about the Spice Girls exhibition in Angel, just before it was about to move to Manchester and had a spare afternoon one Sunday so headed up to take a look. It was a display of the ridiculous amount of products they advertised during their (fairly short) time in the spotlight as the band. There were also loads of clothes and costumes on show, most pretty cheap looking!

There was a small section on each of the girls solo careers post-spice. A couple of things that jumped out to me were a pair of Geri's shoes which simply look far too small for any fully-grown adult, and the crazy amount of magazine covers that Victoria Beckham has been on - quite something when they are all spread out together in one place!

10 Years Ago

I can't quite believe that it was 10 years ago since I began my adventures over in Asia. In celebration I was able to get a few of us from the 2008 cohort of British Council teachers together. It was lovely to see each other again, catch up on the last 10 years and hopefully get a bit more regular at getting together in the future.

The hangover I was nursing the following day was also a reminder of those days gone by - I could have done without that!

Socially Minded

I'm part of the social committee at work, and the first big event that I've been involved with was the Staff Summer Party. All went off without too much of a hitch (apart from the caricaturist going to the wrong theatre), and I ended the evening tube-ing it home with a blow up Flamingo in tow. We're now on to planning for the Christmas do - what fun!

Out Of Office On

Had a short break this month with my family to Southwold. We encountered a bit of rain but that made spending the afternoon in reading a book completely justifiable! 

So much fun was had that I didn't take many photos. These two probably sum up most of our time, playing with my little niece!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

My Blog Birthday

Eight years ago today I published my first posts. I'm not as prolific as I used to be, but then I don't spend as much time behind a desk with nothing to do any longer. What started out as Seoul Music (probably the worst blog name ever) became Wanderings and Wonderings. I still like this name now; as this is just a place to write about what I get up to, where I've been and perhaps sometimes just how I'm feeling, or a way to try to make sense of what's happened, or thinking about the future or really just to wallow.

I went through a stage where I was reading a lot of other blogs from people who had started to become successful and make money from theirs. I considered that perhaps I could give that a go, with my spare afternoons at work (in Korea) I navigated through bloggers different themes, learnt a tiny bit about HTML and attempted to monetise my space on the internet. I quickly learnt that with only about 3 followers and fairly boring personal content I wasn't going to be the next big thing on the internet. Plus I basically couldn't be bothered to put in the (wo)man hours. 

So here it stands, my little space online where I write about me... how self indulgent. It's mostly just so that I have a journal of memories, and also because I like writing. It'll never make me rich, but at least my mum likes it.

Happy 8th Birthday, blog. 😘

p.s. how old school is this photo:

  • taken in my second year at university
  • that my old, decrepit toshiba laptop (that I wrote all my essays and ultimately my dissertation on)
  • it's sitting on top of a cooling tray because it used to overheat and switch off without notice and absolutely ruined my first hard drive
  • that's a Buffy mousemat
  • that's a deckchair for my 3310 nokia mobile phone
  • those are separate speakers plugged into the side of my computer
  • still got those cat drinks glasses
  • no idea what essay I am writing there

Friday, 3 August 2018

Wanderings Lately :: July

Life hack: write a blog, even if no one else reads it you will have a great record of your life over the years.

Last July the weather was horrible. A couple of years ago I was celebrating birthdays and bring sporty. Seven years ago I was swimming in rain in Korea.

I can't quite believe that it is August already, and yet when I think about this time last year, I was about to head to Cornwall for our big family holiday and that seems like years ago! Time is a strange thing.

This month I have two weddings, a reunion, another family getaway and a break from many of my usual after work pursuits. Perhaps I'll take some evenings in the park soaking up some summer sun over netball and dancing for the month instead!

Here's a look back over July; a trip to Nice, a little bit of work, sports and hen party fun.


I began the month in Nice, visiting Johanna, just before she was about to leave to return to Geneva. I made a video of my trip, which I think shows how much fun it was. Visiting friends is one of my favourite ways to travel. Not only do you get to spend time with someone who you enjoy being with, and that you don't see as much as you once did, but you get to spend the day exploring yourself and meeting up in the evening to chat and talk about it all. As I was clearly reminded on my ill-fated trip to Greece, solo travel is really not for me. But that's not to say I don't like being on my own. I am happy with my own company and can easily spend the day exploring, wandering or even just sitting around on my own. I just don't like to do that all day every day. Evening are the time when I really want company.

Going to Nice this time, was very different to my first visit. It's interesting to re-visit those places you went to as a young backpacker with no money. Not that I am suddenly flush now, but I certainly have more to spend than in my early 20s and it gives you a totally different experience.


I won tickets to watch the Vitality Superleague Netball final at the Copperbox. So I went along with Holly, one of the girls from my netball team to watch.

Great to see professional netball in action, and well done to Wasps Netball for winning the league again this year. Next season there will be a London team for the first time, so I would like to watch London Pulse more often next season.

We also had our student farewell event at Alexandra Palace at the beginning of the month. As I started half way through the academic year, I wasn't there when these scholars arrived but it was rally quite something to see all of the scholars in one place at the same time. It's such a diverse room of people, from so many different places, their lives all colliding for one year as they make a stop in the UK on their career paths. I am looking forward to orientation this year, although I know it will be a busy day work-wise, but this time I have been involved in the process of selection. I hope to meet the scholars from Kosovo who I helped to interview back in March!

Happy Hens

My final two weekends in July were spent celebrating two very different Hen Dos. First up for Siobhan's at Go Ape in Battersea Park. I've been there been with my friend Polly, but this time we had a group of happy (and not so happy) hens in tow. Siobhan ended up getting tangled in some of the ropes and none of us completed the final top level loop. We all opted to head to the room we had booked to drink prosecco and play games instead. The glorious summer weather was in full swing so we saw out the day sitting in the park, chatting and finishing off the nibbles. A very chilled and low key day.

Last weekend, I headed up to Manchester for Chelsea's hen. Much more a traditional hen night, with a big group of girls from many corners of the world - Canada, Australia, Holland (and of course London!) We had a great afternoon and evening, learning how to make cocktails, playing games - my team won! - dinner, karaoke and a good old fashioned night out. The following day, the UK weather decided to revert to form and was pouring with rain. 

:: One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by. Jeanette Walls; The Glass Castle ::

Monday, 23 July 2018

From Draft... to Published | Chernobyl

When Mary and I did our long trip back to London from Asia, we travelled through Kiev because it was convenient for the route and to avoid the large visa cost of going via Belarus. Although it hadn't been on my list of places I'd like to visit, I ended up loving Kiev. It's a cool city, especially beautiful when the sun is shining. It's chock full of pastel churches and cobble stones. While we were there, we heard that it was possible to take a trip to Chernobyl, site of probably the world's worst nuclear disaster. The trip was quite expensive, and we weren't sure whether to blow a large part of our backpacker budget on it. In the end, after deciding to go for it, we weren't able to sign up as you have to give at least four days notice.

So when my work trip to Kiev was confirmed, I knew I wanted to book a couple of extra nights and take the trip. The area around the remaining site is known as the exclusion zone, a 30km area set up by the Soviet authorities. The area is still secure and you have to pass through check points in and out. All trip participants have to register with their passport to attend.

The journey there takes around 2 hours, during which a video is shown with gives details on the disaster (referred to as 'accident' throughout by the tour guides), and also the clean up and legacy. A couple of things I wasn't aware of previously; 

1. The reactor was initially covered with a cement sarcophagus to contain the radioactive debris but this was only ever intended as a shield, a short term solution to quickly minimise the damage. As time went on, it was clear that the cover was deteriorating and would not last more than 30 years before it collapsed sending the still contaminated dust back into out atmosphere. In the early 2000s, an international team of engineers worked together to create a better cover which could last much longer (100 years) and enable the deconstruction and safe removal of the reactor. 

2. The disaster occured in reactor 4. The other reactors continued to be used after the disaster and it wasn't until 2000 that the final one (reactor 3 - next to the one that exploded!) was decommissioned.

3. There was actually greater areas of land affected by the disaster in Belarus, and these parts of the country are still no-go areas.

4. Some people have now returned to Chernobyl town, and live there safely today.

The day trip is very long, and is quite tiring. But it is completely worth it. I have always been quite fascinated by abandoned places. Pripyat is probably the ultimate time capsule town. It's so quiet and peaceful, but with an undeniable sombreness in the air. Generally the visit was conducted with sensitivity, but a couple of times I had to remind myself that this was the site of other people's misfortune and suffering and should not be minimised to a tourist attraction.

I feel that I learnt a lot from this visit, and I saw a part of history that is fascinating, sad and unforgettable. 

The stands of the Football Stadium from Pripyat

The ferris wheel is one of the famous sites of Chernobyl, and it's especially sad as it was never used. The whole playground was created for May day celebrations, and the disaster happened on 27th April.

Quite before their time, Pripyat had a large supermarket. The ruins in the town are sad to see; rusted trolleys, broken glass, fallen in ceilings and water dripping from everywhere. But in 1986 this was quite unusual.

Our tour guide stopped by this sign, and told everyone to get out for 'selfie' time. It seemed very inappropriate and as you can see I just took a photo of everyone blindly following what she told them without questioning it.

The soviets were in the process of building more reactors; this is the site of 5 and 6 - the plan was to build 12 in total. Once reactor 4 exploded construction on all of these stopped. 

A Soviet ferrari!

The empty roads were creepy but the stillness was also quite peaceful and serene.