Monday, 20 December 2010

hoping for a hat trick

Last year over Christmas, my flight coming back to London was threatened by the greed of striking BA staff. Thankfully, the crisis was averted and I was able to return back to work on my scheduled flight. To be fair, I really wasn't all that worried about being stuck at home for a bit longer, but I also didn't want to waste any precious vacation days on staying in Canada.

In April, I was due to fly to Vancouver for my brother's wedding when a volcano I dubbed 'Iggy' decided to erupt and spew ash all over the hemisphere causing cancellations galore.

Working in the travel industry at the time, I couldn't escape the possibility that I might actually have to partake in my brother's wedding via Skype. My stress levels and disappointment were so severe that I was whisked out the night before my flight was due to leave to drown my sorrows in 2 for 1 cocktails.

But the miracle swept in, and they opened the airports that very morning and I walked down the aisle after all.

Now a measly five inches of snow and more forecasted bad weather is threatening to leave me stranded and alone in London for Christmas. After I busted my ass to get all of my Christmas shopping done in time and braved the streets of Oxford Circus...

So I'm crossing my fingers and hoping like mad to score a hat-trick. Because despite my flatmate offering to wrap up random items in our house for me to open up on Christmas Day (Thanks Suey) - I really want to go home this year.

A photo of the very empty Heathrow Express train carriage the morning the airports opened after the ash cloud crisis. I showed up 4 hours early expecting a mad mob - this is what I was greeted with

My ride to my brother's wedding - I'd never been so happy to board a plane.... I'll be even happier when/if I board a plane this Friday afternoon

Saturday, 18 December 2010

and so it begins...

oh the weather outside is frightful, and my bed is so delightful (and warm!) and since we've got no place to go....

actually no, screw that I have a million things to do and I seriously need to get out of this bed.

One week til Christmas. I can't believe it's crept up on us so fast.

And as for gifts? I've gotten a zillion things for my two adorable nieces and nothing for the rest of the family. Sorry family.

And London Marathon training? I've only missed a few of my runs... and by a few, I mean half. Thankfully I'm ahead of my 16 week schedule, but that doesn't mean that I should slack off.

On some more positive news, I am now 1% closer to my target goal of raising 1,600 GBP for the London Marathon - go me!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

This is what a bad day at the office looks like

1 Pair of Black leather ankle boots with silver buckles - Russell & Bromley

1 pair of perfectly faded skinny jeans - Anthropologie sale section

1 dark blue long cardigan - Anthropologie sale section

1 knee length grey tweed skirt with pockets - Anthropologie sale section

...clearly if I'm having a bad day, I need to stay clear of Regent Street.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

we be huntin' wabbits

Just a quick post - it's been a hell of a weekend.

However, I must tell you all of my latest achievement. My crowning glory and triumph of having won the 'Bunny Hunt 2010' with my partner in crime - Dutch Alex.

The Bunny Hunt Game:

Take one girl dressed in a full bunny costume, another in a police uniform get-up. Throw in 8 other friends and lots of beer. Give bunny girl and police officer a wad of cash and then set them free into the bars and pubs of London.

Then throw back a 6-pack of beer before setting off in teams of two through the streets of London to find said bunny. Winner gets the remaining prize money that the bunny and cop haven't spend, but more importantly, they win bragging rights.

Any bar that the teams run and later on will stumble into to find the bunny cannot be vacated until each person has one drink, or in the case of some teams, shots.

Like I said... it's been a hell of a weekend :)

Monday, 15 November 2010

A Toast to the Eurostar Man

My fourth grade math teacher once wrote on my report card - "Irene is a very caring and bright child, but she needs to work on her attention to detail."

Those three words - attention to detail - would continue to follow me from simple algebra onto university, personal life and work.

Send emails without attachments? Yup

Show up on Wilson Road instead of Wilson Street, making me almost half an hour late for my date? Happened last week.

It seems like I rush through life without taking note of the little things, the small details. Typically this doesn't really matter, except for this past weekend...

I was due to travel via Eurostar to Belgium with a few friends. Taking after my father, I showed up at St. Pancras station much earlier than I needed to. But I like the feeling of having loads of time to get a coffee and relax before checking in for travel.

Upon meeting up with my travel companions, myself and one other noticed that our train was delayed. There it was in big capital letters - BELGIUM: DELAYED ONE HOUR.

After a little grumbling, we settled down to breakfast. Still relaxed. Still chilled out.

45 minutes later we walked up to the Eurostar gate.

Strangely enough, our ticket wouldn't scan. Upon closer examination, the Eurostar man said "I'm sorry, but your train left"

There were shouts of protests -

"But it said delayed on the board"

"We've been here for over an hour now!"

Which was followed by the Eurostar man asking us which board said which I triumphantly replied "That one!" pointing my index finger at the big capital letters that said "BELGIUM DELAYED ONE HOUR".

And there it was, just half an inch above where my finger was pointing at, in even bigger capital letters, the word "ARRIVALS".

Perhaps it was the prospect of dealing with four tearful (in my case, sobbing) girls that stirred some strings of sympathy in the Eurostar man, but he directed us to the ticket office whereupon we were booked onto the next train out to Brussels at no extra charge.

With that, I strolled up to the Champagne Bar in St Pancras, and amidst the trains rolling in and travellers spilling onto the platform, I toasted the wonderful Eurostar man.

Despite the mishap, the trip to Belgium was a wonderful albeit hazy 30 something hours of delicious beers, even better frites and countless chocolate shops.

As for train travel? I learned my lesson. Reading the wrong board? A rookie mistake surely. And even with that, we all agreed that going via Eurostar was a much more civilised way of touring the continent. For one thing, train carriages that rock from side to side make most people pass out. That means no annoying person sitting beside you who wants to talk for the entire journey.

Also, people just seem nicer on trains. Perhaps it's because they haven't been up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus to the airport, only to stand in a huge line for security and get stuck behind that person who has a bottle of water in their bag, keeps their belt and shoes on and has a piggy bank of change in their pocket.

All in all, it was a pretty amazing first foray into Belgium.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Faking it...

It's taken many years of practice, but I've become the master at faking it....

Honestly - I really thought I was good at faking until tonight's orchestra rehearsal. For some odd reason they decided to seat me up at the front, beside the concertmaster. This really means nothing in terms of my actual playing ability (which is pretty awful), but meant that I'm under even more scrutiny.

You'd think that under this added pressure I would put more effort into practicing. Obviously it doesn't - and as a result, I'm probably only able to play about 60% of the music. Even with that, I'm sure most of those notes are off by at least a tone.

In the last few weeks of rehearsals, I've gotten extremely good at following the concertmaster and imitating his movements. As a result, I look like I know what I'm doing. And with over 10 other players in my section, I can usually play quietly enough that my wrong notes remain quite hidden.

That is until tonight when my worst nightmare struck. The conductor in a purely sadistic, evil gesture, decided that we would play one by one, a particularly difficult passage in front of the entire orchestra.

...I'm still scarred by the experience.

I may even pick up my violin this week and practice.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A month gone by

It's been a month or so since I've posted. Apologies but I've been adjusting to my new job and the demanding schedule that comes with it.

Aside from that, it's been a whirlwind of relatives and friends coming into town. Also...

- I managed not to melt in 40+ degree heat on a weekend jaunt to Seville with Tracy and Jess (the aussie one) and learned the importance of taking siestas

- I had a momentary throwback to childhood during a visit to the British Museum with my good friend Laura, when we posed for a picture as a Royal Guard and Paddington (guess who got to be Paddington)

- I somehow managed to become a social media expert at work - yah, I'm still trying to figure that one out

- I fell into a whirlwind romance that fizzled out as quickly as it had started (so quickly that I never got around to getting a photo of the gentleman and myself - shrug)

- I ran a half-marathon after going out dancing til 4 am earlier that weekend and, no surprise here, got my worst time ever. But had one of the best times ever running with my good friend Nicola, while her super sweet boyfriend turned up at random mile markers to give kisses to her and high fives to me. Also they gave out percy pigs after mile 10...need i say more? (Official race photos can be found here)

- I became an Auntie - again. She's gorgeous and not as funny looking as her big sister was at her age. Turns out that not being in labour for 13 hours does wonders for your head shape as a new born

- I feasted on a bridge with my flattie, Ollie, Jen, Flattie's friend and a random girl with a plant on her head

- I travelled to Scotland for the first time and thought about ordering haggis for lunch. I also poked around an old Scottish castle...

all in all, it's been a pretty amazing month. Hell, it's been a pretty great 15-odd months of living here in London.

Friday, 24 September 2010

so long, and thanks for all the fish

wow. It's been an eye-opening few weeks.

I handed in my resignation notice at my current agency two months ago. Yes, that's 2 whole months, 8 flipping weeks, 60 odd days...ridiculous but it was in my contract. I had accepted an offer from a digital PR agency located outside of London. It had a good reputation and a great client list - best of all they were willing to wait two months for me to start.

The first 6 weeks were a waiting game. Continuing on with client work, starting projects that I knew I wouldn't be there to see to the end and going about work as normal.

Then the bomb dropped one Friday afternoon, two weeks before my final day at my current company. My recruiter called to inform me that the digital agency had encountered some 'financial difficulties' and would no longer be able to employ me.

My mind was a bit blank, but there was one realisation that slowly came forward - I was going to be umemployed in two weeks.

Long story short, I hauled ass and reached out to practically every PR contact I had in London. I also badgered my recruiter, who pulled through and got me an interview at a property PR firm.

I now work there.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Weekend planning

I love my weekends in London.

Anyone who's spent a little time with me, also knows how much I love my Moleskine agenda. Whenever I feel like taking a break from work, I flip through my agenda and look at upcoming events/trips, old trips I had taken, old shopping lists, recipes scrawled down on side pages, packing lists for trips taken...

This will be one of my first weekends not hosting a guest. While I'm sad that my wonderful friends (Laura & Ash) aren't here, I'm excited to spend a weekend in London not battling the hordes of tourists at Buckingham Palace.

Tonight will be rocking out at Wembly Stadium to the sounds of Muse with Tracy.

Saturday afternoon I'm meeting one of my favourite couples, Jen & Ollie to check out the Mayor's Thames Festival. Saturday night will be spent testing out my new Le Creuset dutch oven and having something simmering on the stove while I curl up to watch a horrible chick flick. (ahem) letters to juliet (cough)

and sunday will be brunch with my favourite Viking, followed by some quality time with the New Guy.

And then it's monday... but I'm not thinking about that. I'm just sitting here counting down the minutes until my weekend starts. And working of course. Because I am the queen of the multi-task.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Making my West End London debut

During my mother's visit a few weeks ago, we were joined not only by one of my closest friends, Ash, but also one of my mother's close friends (and distantly related cousin) - my Auntie Belinda.

This meant that us four gals could partake in all that London had to offer, be it dinner at the OXO towers, afternoon tea at The Ritz and of course shopping. I also booked tickets for us to see Andrew Lloyd Weber's 'Love Never Dies' - the sequel to his masterpiece, the Phantom of the Opera.

After watching the musical, I received an email from Auntie Belinda asking if I would be interested in seeing another show with her and my mother the following Saturday. Sadly, Ash would be on a plane back to Toronto, but I'm always up for watching people burst into song.

As it was rather last minute, the concierge at her hotel managed to get three tickets to see Hair.

I had never seen Hair, nor was I particularly familiar with the music, but it looked interesting enough and hey, it's people randomly bursting into song and dance, which is always entertaining.

Wikipedia says that Hair "tells the story of the tribe, a group of politically active long-haired hippies of the 'Age of Aquarius' living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War".

What it doesn't tell you is this:

1. There is a song entitled 'Sodomy' where the actors on stage engage in what can only be described as dry humping - tres awkward when you're wedged between your aunt and mother

2. At the end of the first act, while the main actor belts out 'I got life', the rest of the cast members strip into total full frontal nudity and face the audience. While I have no issues with nudity, somehow having my mother sitting beside me was enough to transform me into a giggling teenager.

3. The musical consistently tries to break down the invisible barrier between the actors and the audience. In English class, we learned this as 'breaking the fourth wall'. What I never expected though was when one actor would sit down beside my mother and ask to hold her hand during a seance.

And finally

4. The end of the play - I'm not entirely sure what's happened as most of the songs were portraying LSD-induced hallucinations, but I'm getting pulled onto stage and i'm dancing alongside the actors and other members of the audience to the sounds of 'Let the Sunshine In".

Don't believe me? Check out the photographic evidence below courtesy of Mommy Poon's camera.

Monday, 6 September 2010

How (not) to pack a suitcase

Like many of my female counterparts, I like having a good selection of clothing/shoes/accessories.

This always poses a problem whenever I travel. Coupled with the fact that I like to shop*, I find myself hauling a large bag around for short weekend trips away and multiple bags for longer trips.

* By "like" I obviously mean "love to the point of total obsession"

I've gotten very good at packing over the last few trips, bringing only the bare necessities, along with the bare minimum in "just in case" outfits. For those longer trips where I know there'll be an opportunity or two, or three (or five) to shop, I bring along my trusty vacuum bags.

Having Ashley over a few weeks ago, however, really was a total awakening in just how much one person can cram into a suitcase and STILL accumulate more items of clothing.

I can still distinctly remember picking up Ash from Paddington Station the first time she came to London. She had been in Italy for a week before and rocked up with a carry-on suitcase in each hand and a ridiculously large leather tote bag slung rather haphazardly over one shoulder.

When she arrived at my office a few weeks ago, I shouldn't have been shocked to open the black cab door and find myself facing a massive suitcase instead of Ashley. She appeared from behind it with another ridiculously large tote (this time a Lululemon gym bag) and a carry-on sized suitcase.

Although we managed to play tourist over the course of Ash's visit, a good portion of our time was spent, well.. spending money to help the British economy. Despite the many shoe and clothing stores that needed to be visited, Ash still found time to catch a musical with me, eat a few good meals around the city AND meet the new boy to give her seal of approval. (Incidentally, it IS possible to bond over a mutual dislike for people who make too much noise when they chew...)

However, the real highlight of Ash's visit was the hilarity which ensued from her attempt to pack everything into her two suitcases, lululemon gym bag and newly purchased Longchamp expandable tote bag. I, of course, had to bring out the SLR to capture the sheer mountain of stuff that was alarmingly piled onto my bed.

Below are just some of the shots I managed to take in between falling down with hysterical laughter everytime Ash found and cursed another pair of shoes she had bought and forgotten about.

Oh, Ash - please come visit soon. Myself and the high streets of London can't wait to see you again!

Ash - If I can fit in here, surely all of my stuff can!

Trying to figure out where to start

"If I can't see it - it'll all disappear and pack itself"

Believe it or not - this was near the end of the packing (see the dwindling mess on my bed)

Friday, 27 August 2010

we loves bank holidays

it's 4pm on a Friday afternoon. I have 30 minutes left until the bank holiday starts and I'm off for a good three days.

Seville and its obscenely hot weather await me. So tonight I'll be packing my summer dresses and shorts, along with the rest of my sadly neglected summer clothing.

i have a ton of photos I need to upload to flickr, not to mention lots of blog posts documenting and regaling the silliness and adventures I got up to when Ashley visited last week.

In the meantime, I leave you with the cutest wedding video ever. Happy Bank Holiday Weekend!

Lauren + JP from Matt Odom on Vimeo.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Paris - je t'aime (only sometimes)

Oh Paris. City of lights. City of love. La mode, l'arte et l'amour.

My weekend trip to Paris with my mother started off easily enough. Passing through customs and security at St Pancras was a breeze, and the train ride passed with little incident. We arrived in Paris in a mere 2.5 hours at Gare du Nord, ready to start our Paris adventure.

Our hotel had been rated #15 out of zillions of Paris hotels in TripAdvisor. I typically put good faith on reviews, and was quite excited to stay here, especially after looking at the website. Personally I wouldn't stay there again - I prefer to be in the hub of action and this place was a little too quiet and off the beaten path for my liking.

It was my mother's first time in Paris and that meant hitting all the big spots. The Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Champs Elysee, basically anywhere you would find a group of tourist following a flag-bearing tour guide, Nikon cameras hanging from their necks and sensible shoes on their feet - we went there.

Exhausting doesn't even begin to describe it.

The lines. Oh dear god the lines. Zig-zagging, meandering and always long. This was followed closely by the crowds and crowds of tourists. Everywhere.

"We need to go see that - it's famous" my mother would say, pointing to said famous object before marching off in a determined fashion, camera in hand.

Still, having not seen my mother in months now, I valued being able to spend this one-on-one time with her. We poked fun at the silly tourists who lined up for hours to take the lift up the Eiffel Tower when we waited a mere 5 minutes to hike up the bloody thing. We sat in a typical brasserie on a rainy afternoon, ordering wine (for moi) and hot water with lemon (for her) until the downpour stopped. We marveled the sheer number of chinese tourists. We gazed at Eiffel Tower at night. We peered past tourists for a glimpse of the teeny tiny Mona Lisa. And we just spent time together. Good quality mother-daughter time.

Merci Paris

Outside the Louvre

Do I even need to say? Although the damn tourist managed to cut off the top of the Eiffel Tower. Ah well... tant pis as they say...

Me attempting to capture the view from our hotel terrace

Stepping off the Eurostar, trying to look very Parisienne

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

OXO Towers - not just a pretty view

I tentatively booked dinner at the OXO Towers last night. Tentatively because I knew it would be bloody expensive and I was wary that it might fall into the category of restaurants with amazing views but rubbish food.

I have to say, it definitely exceeded my expectations.

First of all, we had an amazing table right by the window with clear views of the London skyline. My mother went particularly snap-happy and luckily our waiter happily obliged to take a group photo when we sat down, then again when we got our cocktails, and again when we were served the appetizers...and so on

Secondly, the service was impeccable. My mother has various dietary restrictions and our waiter recommended dishes as well as made substitutions for her.

And finally the food... I started off with seared scallops, which left a lot to be desired. They tasted not quite fresh, which when you eat scallops, isn't the most pleasant experience.

But my entree completely made up for that. Lobster ravioli in a tomato cream broth . I was close to licking my plate at the end. It was that good.

By the time I polished off the cherry souffle, I could barely move, much less waddle out to the terrace to take more photos.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

How to prepare for a visit from ma Mere

My mother will land at London Heathrow tomorrow morning.

I'm at work at the moment, but my mind is racing with the massive to-do list..

1. Set up the spare bed

By "bed" that actually means the random spare twin mattress that came with my flat and which I somehow have to figure out where to place in my already crowded room

2. Clear away random items

This means shoving abovementioned items in desk drawers, behind closed doors, underneath the bed...

3. Fill kitchen with food

By "food" that actually means filling the kitchen with healthy salad-type nourishment to give the appearance that I (a) never buy crisps and (b) am consistently on a diet

...the same goes with hiding all the booze (and by hiding, I may mean drinking it tonight)

Friday, 6 August 2010

A Roommate from Hell

The story about the Craigslist posting from an Apple-hater seeking a new roommate in NYC has been gaining quite a bit of momentum on the online world.

I particularly enjoyed the bit where he proclaims "I refuse to live with anyone that has sold their immortal soul to Steve Jobs", and then goes on to request an experienced Starcraft 2 player.

Wow. I mean... wow.

Having lived with a variety randoms and friends for almost a decade, I've had my share of shitty roommates. Since then though, I've gotten pretty good at filtering the psychos from the good ones.

I wonder - what kind of person will deign to cohabitate with Mr Apple Hater and will they find true roommate happiness?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

is chivalry dead? And who killed it?

I once briefly dated a guy who annoyed me with his chivalry. When we walked down the sidewalk, he would switch places so that I was further away from traffic. He opened doors, held my purse, called me pet names and looked insulted when I offered to pay.

The entire time of our brief relationship, I alternated between exasperation:

'No, really I'm quite capable of walking closer to those cars'

...and gushing adulation:

recounting to a friend 'Seriously, he insisted in carrying me around because my feet were hurting too much'

I almost feel sorry for my guy friends. It's a situation of damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

To be honest, I'm entirely sure what I want... Carrie Bradshaw said it best with this:

'What if Prince Charming had never shown up? Would Snow White have slept in that glass coffin forever? Or would she have eventually woken up, spit out the apple, gotten a job and a health care package? I couldn't help but wonder -- inside every confident, driven, single woman, is there a delicate, fragile princess waiting to be saved?'

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

honing in my inner Martha Stewart

I bought Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast over Amazon a few months ago, and since then my flatmate and I have tackled one recipe - Braised Chicken with shallots. While the rest of the book has remained pristine, this one page is covered with red wine stains, oil splatters and ingredient substitution notes.

I've been planning on making her Lighter Chicken Pot Pie for about two months now. I have puff pastry in the fridge and I'm determined to make this pie tonight. A skeptical Suey declared, "I'll believe it when I walk in, smell it and see the pie"

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

On the road again

For the past two months, I've kept my suitcases in storage, my passport in my bedside table and myself off of airplanes. Having spent most of April - early June living out of a suitcase and constantly flying around Europe and back to Canada, I was keen to stay put in London for the summer.

That's all about to change in a few weeks. My old goal of seeing a new city every month? It's back on baby.

A few months ago, I booked Seville for the August bank holiday. A few days ago, I booked a trip to Dublin in October.

August will also bring a long weekend in Paris with my mother, which I'm hugely excited about. I can't wait to introduce my ever-stylish and always chic mother to the city of style and chicness. I can only hope that in my sixties I can pull off the same effortless elegance that she does on a daily basis.

Monday, 26 July 2010

my flattie and I are culinary geniuses

When I was back in Guyana, I met the lovely Talia who wowed us with her own culinary genius by preparing edible meals from the horrible food supply we were given during our backpacking trips. She was able to throw together multi-course meals from tins of spam, a bag of rice, soy sauce and a wok. It was like watching MacGyver in the kitchen.

On Friday Suey and I discovered that our stove was broken.

As we are not only both keen chefs, but also the owner of two, yes TWO cookbooks, this was nothing short of a tragedy.

But we are culinary geniuses and were able to improvise two incredibly delicious meals using only our cunning talents and a working oven. And lots of pesto. Pesto, it seems, is the magic ingredient.

Saturday morning brunch was spiced potato wedges and a baked frittata with pesto, aged chedder and fresh basil leaves.

Tonight was baked chicken breasts with pesto, garlic and cherry tomatoes.

The great Talia would be proud :)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

losing my festival virginity

Ben & Jerry's Sundae Festival was gentle.

There was barely a line up to get in. Not the hordes of crowds I had been expecting. Inside there were food tents, ice cream tents, a kids play area, a toe-war play area (don't ask), guys running around in boxer briefs with "Hugs are free" written on their lovely 8-pack abs, a host of prams and crawling babies, sunbathing people, a live band, enthusiastic air guitar performers and ice cream.

Oh, the ice cream. It was hard decided which flavours to tackle first. Like a pro though, I ate the ice cream and discarded the cone.

"It takes up too much room" I declared to Suey.

Still, I was only able to manage three cones and an ice cream sandwich.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Why Mahler?

I was at Waterstone's the other day killing some time before meeting with friends when I came across this book:

I've performed one Mahler piece in my entire lifetime. It was the Adagietto from Mahler's Symphony No. 5. It's his probably his most famous, if not most recognizable work.

When I played it under the formidable and hilarious Paul McCulloch back in high school, I distinctly remember him telling us that we couldn't play the piece properly until we had experienced war, famine, death, despair.* Needless to say, I'm sure most of us spoiled private school brats had no idea how to play Mahler, but we managed to limp through that performance without embarrassing ourselves too badly.

Lebrecht speaks of Mahler's ability to ease the pain of death and heal emotional wounds. He speaks of Mahler's symphonies being played on the death bed and world leaders altering their self-perception upon witnessing his performances. He says that Mahler is the soundtrack to our lives.

To be honest, it sounds a bit far-fetched to me. But then again, what do I know? I'm just a girl who has a playlist on her iPod titled 'soundtrack to my life' that's littered with Metric, Muse and now a litte Mahler.

* Paul, apologies if I've completely misquoted you :) But you're definitely formidable and hilarious, even when you were calling us meatball heads and stopping us mid-performance because we all lost our places

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

loving the old spice

On the twitter-sphere, there's been much talk (or tweets) surrounding the new old spice viral campaign.

I finally got around to checking it out while at work today. It was my break from working incredibly hard for the last few hours. Because in no way would I be procrastinating. Not. At. All.

Anyway, brilliant campaign by Old Spice. And I have no idea how the actor kept a straight face for each of those 180+ personalised YouTube video responses.

Check it out if you have a few spare minutes. Or, just watch one of my favourites below...

Monday, 19 July 2010

i scream, you scream, we all scream for....

Free Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream!!!!


This Sunday, I'll be losing my festival virginity to the Ben & Jerry's Sundae Festival in Clapham Common.

A whole 8 hours of live music, chilling hopefully under the sun with my friends and free ice cream. Lots of it. Chunky Monkey, Phish Food, Cherry Garcia... my stomach is growling and my mouth is watering in anticipation.

only 6 more days.

Saturday, 17 July 2010


My closest guy friends are obsessed with the hit sitcom, 'How I Met Your Mother'. They regularly reference and quote specific episodes, they have 'Suit Up' sundays and generally use Barney as a shining example of how to pick up women. (I have yet to see it work)

Steak Sauce is one of their favourites. Calling one thing/person/situation/etc 'steaksauce' means that it is beyond awesome. It is more than legend - wait for it - ary.

So it's only fitting that dinner on Friday was deemed a 'steaksauce', as we were all treated to an amazing steak dinner at Le Relais de Venise by Jess' parents who were in town for the weekend.

Vegetarians would hate this restaurant as there's no choice. You sit down (after queuing up outside)and the waitress asks you how you like your steak. Other than the wine list and dessert, there's no other scope for choice. They bring you a salad with slices of fresh baguette. Then you get your first serving of steak frites, followed by a "refill" of more steak frites. And finally you choose your dessert and after polishing off your last profiterole (and in my case, licking off every last bit of chocolate sauce from the plate), the bill is paid and you stagger outside completely satiated, to pure looks of hatred and envy from those still waiting outside to get in.

Friday, 16 July 2010

in which I go to Bermuda, then don't

For a total of 15 minutes yesterday, I was going to go on a last minute business trip to Bermuda and New York. And by "last minute" I mean it would have entailed leaving this Sunday for a week of industry presentations and client meetings. (and perhaps some stolen time on the beach?)

But then it all came crashing down on me, as the guy whose spot I was supposed to be taking informed me that his ticket was non-transferable.

So now I'm staying in London instead, where I will be looking at pictures of pink sandy beaches over pints of beer with the Wendover crew.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

look ma! I made my blog pretty!

I'm working hard right now... really... just took a little break from PR work to play around with the different backgrounds on blogger and voila!

I rock.

That is all.

splish splash for social media

We had a seminar in social media for PRs at work last week. Before you start to yawn and fall asleep, no it really wasn't that bad.

The presenter showed us this video afterwards. I've watched it again because:

1. this is what presentations should be like - funny, passionate, casual... not reading off a powerpoint

2. who doesn't like whales? Especially ones with the name Mr. Splashy Pants?

3. we all like greenpeace - they do good stuff

4. the speaker is kinda cute in a dorky way

Sunday, 11 July 2010

crossing off the bucket list in Brighton

Yesterday I made the trek down to Brighton - Britain's favourite seaside town. What started off as a gorgeous and sunny day in London was transformed into cloudy and overcast in Brighton. My exact words upon meeting Lena at Brighton's train station was: "It's fucking cold, we're going shopping".

Things didn't really turn out as planned.

Instead we met up with Cate the Intern and her two friends, and strolled around Brighton's rocky beach. Yes rocks. Someone in Brighton didn't get the memo, because instead of soft sand, we were treading on sharp stabbing stones. And there really is no graceful way to walk on those beaches in flip flops. Either you take them off and walk gingerly on top of said sharp rocks, or you walk with the flip flops on, pausing every few steps to shake out a few stones that get caught inside your shoe.

Case in point: Cate the Intern trying to make her way down a very slippery slope on the "beach"

A visit to Brighton wouldn't be complete without checking out the extremely tacky Brighton pier. Complete with rickety roller coasters, midway games with those scary looking plush toys as prizes and yes, cotton candy, it brought me back to my childhood summers hanging out at CNE with friends.

But I digress, this blog post was titled 'crossing off the bucket list in brighton' and that's exactly what I did. Crossed off one thing on my bucket list, which was ride a mechanical bull.

Unfortunately, in my mind, I would have had better luck on this bull than I did in reality. I got three tries on this bull, and how long did I last in total? 9 bleeding seconds. Shameful really. Oh, and I had issues getting onto the bull... much to the amusement of all the on-lookers. In fact, I can safely say that I made a complete ass of myself in front of some total strangers. But hey, I rode a mechanical bull, thus crossing off one more item on this list.

Apparently the gods felt that I hadn't been humiliated enough though, as they then decided a bird should use my hair as target practice. And it had good aim...

Monday, 28 June 2010

A photo essay of the last few weeks of my life

Yes, I know... I royally suck when it comes to updating. Life has been wonderfully and unexpectedly busy the last few weeks. I've spent time with old friends, rekindled new friendships, worked hard, played hard, relaxed in the sun, ate too much food and generally have been enjoying my summer.

Here are a few photos of the last few weeks....

Reunited with the best Quad-mates from Baillie House for Caroline's wedding!

Made a new friend, in the form of Tobi, the daschaund who adored me for the first weekend, then promptly dumped me for a chew toy.... hmmpphh.. boys.

Then I broke a few plates to celebrate Fraulein and B-man's coming marriage - now there's nothing more cathartic then just smashing a box of ceramic plates one by one onto the pavement - I highly recommend it

Fast forward to the day of the wedding the next week...

I managed to redeem myself by drinking an entire stein of beer by myself. Living in London has built up my tolerance whilst simultaneously deteriorating my liver. But yes, for prides' sake, I finished the entire thing, liver be damned.

I took it upon myself to photograph Caroline getting ready for the wedding, these two shots are my favourites...

Following the whirlwind two weeks that was Fraulein and Bman's wedding...

...I ran another half marathon in St. Albans. Note to self, rolling hills of the English countryside are lovely only when you aren't running up them.

Then there was my orchestra concert - where my lovely friends showed up hammered and ate food off the ground... (don't ask)

And finally, I celebrated being Canadian - because who doesn't love us eh?

More to come...

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Happy London Anniversary - one day late

Drum roll please, and maybe some confetti and party hats because June 15, 2010 (or rather 15 June 2010 as they write it over here) is the day, one year ago, that I arrived here in London, armed with my worldly possessions crammed into two suitcases.

Never thought in a million years that I'd still be here, but god it's been a fun year!

My friends here in London are really what have made my time so memorable, they've become my family in this amazingly cool city and I don't think I would have lasted the last 12 months without them.

Now that I have 11.5 months left on my work visa, I'll be looking at my options to extend my stay across the pond for just a little bit longer.

Monday, 14 June 2010

why I'm not allowed to build Ikea furniture alone

Apologies for the really long delay in posting - it's been an insane three or so weeks of traveling, weddings, work...

But I just had to share this... proof of my 'shit that was stupid' moments - because believe you me, I have lotsa them.

Now I was actually quite proud of the fact that I built this bookshelf entirely on my own (aside from a little Skype advice). It wasn't until I put the entire thing upright and went to place books on the shelves that realization of my error dawned on me

...which was followed quickly by a few expletives and referring back to the manual, where I discovered that I would need to go back to step 2 to fix the error.

And at that point, I figured the bookshelf serves its purpose and I shrugged it off.

Now, time to tackle my new Ikea table.

Monday, 24 May 2010

combat baby!!!

Just came back from an amazing show by one of my favourite bands - Metric.

I went armed and ready with my 3-inch heels that are actually comfy and closed toe to protect my poor feet from possible mosh-pit enthusiasts.

Jess was in flip flops.

At any rate we inadvertently pushed our way up to the front, and were about 4 or 5 people away from centre stage.

It's rare that I'll go to a concert where I know literally every single song and can sing along, albeit slightly off key. When 'Gold Gun Girls' came on, I flipped out, when 'Gimme Sympathy' was playing, I belted out the chorus... same with 'Help I'm alive'... but it was this last song, the encore set that really blew me away. It was the acoustic version of 'Combat Baby', probably the first song that drew me to Metric a few years ago.

Did a little search on trusty YouTube and found this video - amazing quality and really just captures how in synch Emily is with James Shaw, that they've finally gotten to a place where they can play an entirely different version of a fan favourite and the crowd just goes wild. I know I did.

.....strange, just looked at the published post and part of the video is cut off, check it out in full here:

Monday, 17 May 2010

chocolate cures all

I've been on a cooking kick.

I think it's partly due to my procrastination from other parts of my life, but lately, I've been doing quite a bit of cooking.

After a particularly harrowing day at work, I decided to try my hand at the classic British concoction called 'Fridge Cake'. I'd never heard of this until moving to London, and it's a treat that one of my co-workers sometimes brought into the office.

So I looked up a recipe from Britain's beloved Jamie Oliver, and stopped by the local Sainsbury's to buy the essential ingredients.

Making Chocolate Fridge Cake is my new way of de-stressing...keep reading and you'll find out why.

- 200g of chocolate
- 150g of unsalted butter, cubed into 1 inch pieces approx
- 8-10 Digestive biscuits
- a bag of dried fruit and nut trail mix
- 1 tablespoon of honey

Step One:

Put the biscuits into a ziplock bag, seal it and proceed to batter it with a blunt object. Try not to get too 'Office Space' style on it, you still want some good-sized cookie chunks in there

Step Two:

Add a handful or so of the fruit and nut mixture to the ziplock bag and set it aside.

Step Three:

Set a heat-proof bowl on top of a pot of simmering water and add the chocolate and butter in stages, melting and stirring until it's all gone.

Typically it goes something like this:
- Add a few chunks of butter and some pieces
- Stare off into space and stir
- Eat a piece of chocolate, then add some into mixture with butter
- Stir absently until done

Step Four:

Take the bowl off the pot and add in the mixture from the ziplock bag. If it seems too dry, don't add the entire contents of the bag, you can always save it for another fridge cake concoction.

Step Five:

Pour the mixture into a grease-paper lined tin and press down so that it settles into the tin

Step Six:

Put into the fridge overnight and cut into slices to enjoy!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

at work and I can't stop thinking about this....

chocolate fridge cake

wonderfully chocolately, divine, goes straight to your hips, chocolate fridge cake... and it's super easy to make

I've already made my grocery list and this time tomorrow will have a chocolate-ty treat for my co-workers.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

AAAARRRRRGGHH!!! My Viking Dinner

A trip to Sweden isn't complete without a meal of meatballs.

And with that rule in hand, I set about researching the best place to indulge in a plate of traditional meatballs without blowing my weekend budget. I wanted somewhere with atmosphere, some place more Swedish than Ikea with prices that weren't much higher.

Countless hours spent on google, lonely planet, trip advisor and forums lead myself and Tracey to Pelikan - a restaurant not only rated #17 out of 688 dining establishments on Trip Advisor, but also promised classic Swedish fare at a price that wouldn't burn a hole in my debit card.

It was a Sunday evening, and the restaurant was buzzing with diners, people waiting by the bar and waiters whizzing around - it's the kind of atmosphere that I adore when going out to eat, low candle light, tables haphazardly arranged in an intimate and comfortable setting, a constant hum of laughter and conversation and best of all - the aroma of really, really good food in the air.

We had to wait about 10 minutes for a table, so Tracey and I ordered drinks at the bar before being led to our table. Luckily Tracey was raised on the traditional Chinese diet of "we'll eat anything, especially if it's weird and really hard to get", so she was anything but a picky eater. Which was good, because I couldn't decide on an appetizer or entree.

For appetizers, we opted for a Swedish charcuterie plate and 'SOS' - a platter of pickled herring, one boiled potato and Swedish cheeses. The charcuterie had a cured ham, similar to prosciutto but slightly gamier, elk which was very gamey and one other cured meat that I can't remember.

Entrees consisted of the obligatory meal of Swedish meatballs, which came with lingonberry sauce, gravy and mashed potatoes. For those of you who've enjoyed this exact meal at Ikea in between browsing the living rooms sets and selecting shelving units, let me tell you right now, the real thing is so much better. It's like spending your life eating that really cheap ice cream we used to get in middle school (you know, the one with the wooden spoons) and then suddenly getting a pint of really good Haagen Daz ice cream. Suddenly the whole world is a different place.

Our selection for a second entree to share was boiled pork knuckle with three kinds of mustard and mashed sweet potato.

Yes, it sounds a bit disgusting, and when it arrived, it looked just like it should have, a large boiled knuckle sitting in the middle of a white plate.

But the meat just slid off the bone and melted right in your mouth. Combined with the mustard - a selection ranging from the sweet Swedish variety to the fiery hot French version, it was probably one of the best meals I've ever had. And I eat. A lot.

Somehow we rolled ourselves out of our chairs and headed back to the hostel, but not before the waiter joked that they had wheelchairs in the back in case we couldn't get up. I think he was joking at least...

Not ready to sleep, we opted to sit outside in the hostel's courtyard cafe and sip herbal tea, while eavesdropping on the other hostel guests' conversations until the food coma was too much and we staggered back to our rooms, clambered up the ladders to our respective bunk beds and passed out.