That gossipy friend of yours is turning 12

Facebook is 12 years old. According to my profile, I have been a member since 2007 at some point, which is scary to think about!

At this point in time, I don’t use it much anymore. It’s more habit than attraction that makes me scroll through the feed.

Once upon a time it was super exciting, and most of us probably shared pretty much every aspect of our lives on there (as the Timehop app tells me – some pretty cringe status updates in there!) Back then, the only way to chat was to write on each-other’s walls (which you then couldn’t comment on, so you would have to write on your friend’s wall to reply.) Today, we have a swanky separate messaging app, that can do all sorts of stuff for us.

It was all fun and games until all the questions around privacy and sharing surfaced, and until Facebook was adopted by the parent generation. I have a feeling that my parents and their generation enjoy Facebook way more than I do at this point in time, as a tool to connect with old friends, while over here all I want to do is disconnect with all those old friends that, once upon a time, I used to see in real life.

I still find Facebook to be the most narcissistic social network out there, and I don’t really like it. It’s all about airing your opinion, sharing your images, protecting your self image. You could argue that Instagram is just as bad, but personally I find Instagram way more inspiring – as long as you follow the right accounts and not ‘selfie-central’ (although some of those can be quite inspiring too, if done right.)

It’s probably just because I’m getting old, and in my old days I’ve started searching for more realness and deeper conversations than an occasional ‘like’ (how very stereotypical of me.) And, I more and more value my privacy and the fact that not every single person on my friend list needs to know what I’m doing all the time. It dilutes the experience of actually doing it I find. And it’s much more valuable to share an amazing experience (or just every day life) with a few people close to you, than 400 (mostly) strangers.

Imagine taking a picture, just for the sake of taking that picture and save it in a folder on your computer, and never share it with anyone, but just to have it as a memory, for yourself. Probably an alien thought to most people at this point in time!

 

Tips for finding a flat in London

I’ve done this a few times, and feel like I have learned a lot. And, I’m currently going through all the steps below myself, as out landlady have decided to sell the flat we’re currently renting. I’m not gonna lie – It sucks, but that’s the nature of renting in London. Finding a flat in London is by no means easy – possibly one of the most difficult things ever – but not impossible. Here’s a few tips to help you on the way:

  • Get in first. Easier said than done! I’d recommend signing up with your local Estate Agents, and make a really good impression on them. Make sure they remember you, and that you don’t set your requirements too high – Better to be offered flats that you can turn down, than not being offered any at all. I have been put first in the queue for a property before, thanks to an Estate Agent.
  • Check out lettings pages on Facebook. A lot of areas will have a local Facebook group for private landlords. Have a scout, or proactively create a post with what you are searching for. Be professional but friendly – Include a friendly photo of yourself, alongside a short bio. Focus on how reliable you are, and what a nice person you are.
  • Use your network. Spread the word, that you are in the market for a new place to rent. A lot of people in London make a living of buy-to-rent (I won’t mention how I feel about that) and some of your friends or work colleagues might know one of them.
  • Be realistic about prices. London is tricky when it comes to renting prices, and by tricky, I mean bloody expensive. If you are moving to an area you don’t know, do some research of what to expect (rightmove.co.uk is a good place to start.)
  • If an estate agent contacts you with a flat that you think you might be interested in, drop whatever you are doing and go view it immediately. If it’s a nice flat, chances are that the first person to view it, will take it. Be prepared to put down a holding deposit there and then.
  • …But make sure you have a proper look around the flat. Check out the walls, the windows, and the security. Damp is very widespread in London, and it’s not nice living in a flat that is damp. Trust your nose and intuition.
  • Make sure you read the contract through a few times. Estate Agents can get things wrong, and remember, their job is to get the flat rented out no matter what. They are working for the landlord.
  • Get a feeling of what the building is like. I have lived in a place where the actual building was so bad that I barely got any sleep for 8 months due to noisy neighbours. It’s hard to fully investigate this during a viewing, but no harm in asking if the Estate Agent know who lives in the surrounding flats and houses.
  • And the most important one – Your common sense. Definitely listen to it. If it sounds too good to be true it definitely is. And remember, Estate Agents will say almost anything to earn their fee – double check everything, and don’t feel bad for doing so. And never, ever, pay anyone any money before seeing the flat.

Also, check out some of the most depressing letting adds in London here, and see if you can figure out whether to laugh or cry – at this point in time, I’m not quite sure myself.

Happy hunting!

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One of those days

It’s been one of those days where you feel like screaming into a pillow, and just take one long nap, so you don’t have to deal with anything.

The email I have feared since last summer, when our landlady put us on a so-called ‘rolling contract’ have come. We have to move (insert huge sigh).

I am soooo tired of moving. I have lived in London for a total of almost 9 years, and I have lived a total of 8 different places. 8! That’s a move almost every year. The last 3 of those, have been in Walthamstow. And the number of those houses which had no nasty surprises, is about one. I could say a lot of things about the London rental market and the prices, but I’m afraid that if I start, I’ll never stop. And I am trying really hard not to be super-negative about it, and instead see the positive sides to this (ha!)

Another aspect of this is that I despise Estate Agents, and the whole world around them. Rental fees, administration fees, references, etc. etc. They might be nice people, but they have pretty shitty jobs.

So now what? We have really settled down in our current area. I have an easy commute to work, as does Joel (who can walk). Our gym is just around the corner. Joel’s music partner is 10 minutes away. I have already had a peek at the rental market in our area, and surprise, surprise, the prices have gone up since we were last looking a year and a half ago. And also, I really like our current flat. It’s been a great home for us the past 1,5 years, and it’ll be sad leaving it behind for something not as good.

But nostalgia won’t get us anywhere. Time to look at this as an opportunity to shake things up, and think about our options. I just need a week (and a glass of wine or two) to get over the chock first.

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Throwback to Summer 2015

How long is this January? It honestly feels like it has been going on for about a year and a half. I’m not one to wish time away, but the grey, wet, windy days could pass a little faster. At least bring some frost, snow and sunshine instead, right?

Last summer feels pretty far away. Looking through my Instagram feed, it was pretty darn long though – probably because I kickstarted it in March with a work trip to sunny Barcelona, then Sicily, followed by another work trip to scorching Berlin. And, if you lived in London last summer, I’m sure you remember the heatwave. One of the most vivid memories I have, is standing outside a Walthamstow pub at 10pm with a glass of cold white wine in my hand after watching a film screening, and absolutely boiling in 28 degrees and a very high humidity. Just like the rest of the audience.

I love winter. But, only if it’s proper – Snow and freezing temperatures, and all that comes with it. But on these dark January evenings I do dream of summer. The good news is, it’ll be here before we know it.

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Ice cream at the Copenhagen harbour
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A very hot, and very pretty Berlin
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Sicily putting on a show – Look at that water!
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In an English pub garden
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Preferred summer food –  always and forever
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Favourite ice cream
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In sunny Montpellier in August last year

The ultimate winter pick-me-up

Since it’s January and the most popular month for implementing healthier lifestyles, here’s an easy one for you. It doesn’t take much commitment, is over in about 2 seconds, and makes you feel healthy. What’s not to like? 

Lemon/Ginger shot:

You need:

4 organic lemons (you don’t want any of the nasty stuff – definitely get organic ones)

200g of fresh ginger

2 tablespoons of honey

2 litres of water

Chop the lemon and gingers into chunks, and and combine everything in a pan. Bring to boil, and then let the whole thing simmer for 45min-an hour. And voila! Take a shot of this every day, first thing in the morning, and I promise you’ll feel more awake than any coffee could ever make you. According to Deliciously Ella, the ginger is soothing for the digestive system, and the lemon is great for the immune system and for alkalising – It’ll definitely give you a boost! And, because you get to take this in a shot glass you’ll feel like a bit of a badass from the start of the day. It’s win-win really. 

(apologies for the not so inspiring images – Not easy in a winter-dark kitchen)

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A brand new year: So far

Well, 2016 isn’t so bad, is it? Not much has happened yet really, but a nice, gentle start to the New Year ain’t so bad either.

I started work yesterday, and committed the classic post-holiday blues crime of booking all my holiday for the year. Definitely something to look forward to, and it’s looking to be an exciting travel year ahead indeed.

I’m one of those people who is not so keen on New Year’s eve. Going out is out of the question, a house party might work, but really I prefer to stay at home. Normally my Christmas days are pretty full on, so when New Year comes around a bit of relaxations is much needed. Also, in our current flat we have a pretty fantastic view of South-East London, so no need to move to see a bunch of fireworks. So, this year Joel and I went for an early evening drink in our local pub, grabbed a load of cheese and other indulgent snack foods, went around a friend’s house (who conveniently live about two houses down from us), and were back home at about 10pm. the rest of the evening was spend on the couch with lots of bubbly, food, and Jools Holland on TV. Pretty good if you ask me!

January isn’t the most inspiring month (by far!) but how nice is it to know that spring and summer is just around the corner?

Have a lovely year all, and remember – Just like with age, it’s just a number (says the one who is turning a very sharp corner later in the year – hello 30).

A few Instagram shots from the holiday: 

Hello from a not so Christmassy Denmark

I landed a few nights ago, and have so far had a very relaxed time with my mum. 

The weather is super dull – rainy, windy, around 10 degrees and not Christmassy at all. 

We went out to do a bit of last minute shopping yesterday, along side the rest of the population of Vejle. I had my eyes on a pair of boots for myself, but two super excited shop assistants put a stop to it – I just can’t deal with it. They were very friendly, and without a doubt just eager to be helpful, but it’s just too much pressure when you’re tying to have a quiet look around – huzzay for online shopping! 

I’ve also managed to keep up with traditions and gotten myself a really heavy cold, just in time for the Christmas shenanigans. At least the best place to feel a bit poorly is when your parents are around, so it could be a lot worse :) So I’m spending the day on the couch under a cosy blanket, with non-stop cheesy Christmas films on the TV, and a constant supply of clementines. Later we are braving the crowds again for a bit of final shopping, and tonight we’re going out for a non-Christmassy dinner of tapas and wine. 

Tomorrow is the big day here in Denmark, which I’ll be spending at my dads with grandparents, my uncle and aunt, cousin and some of my dad’s girlfriend’s family. The day will be made up of country walks, cooking and talking, before we sit down for a Christmas dinner followed by singing carols while walking around the Christmas tree, and then finally the presents :) it’s all about the “Hygge” and I’m sure it will be lovely. 

I hope you will all have a great Christmas with your loved ones! 

/Ida 

  
  

Here we finally are!

It was my last day at work today before the Christmas holidays, and I must say, it is very much needed! My last real holiday was back in August, which is way too far back, and it has been an exceptionally busy autumn – At least it feels like it has.

On top of that, December has been quite challenging for various reasons, and a break is very needed. I haven’t really had a chance to get into the proper Christmas spirit yet, but with the help of mince pies, present wrapping, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, I’m getting there. London has felt so very manic lately, and it has been the most un-christmassy December ever. I am well behind on the calendar candle, and generally just feel a bit lacking on the festivities front.

This weekend will be spend getting the final bits and pieces sorted, drinks with friends, and spending some quality time with my man before I head to Denmark on Monday to spend Christmas with my family.

There’s something special about travelling at Christmas, because you know that (almost) everyone else is travelling with the same purpose – To go and see loved ones and celebrate the season.

The out-of-office is on, and I’m happily exchanging the bright lights of Oxford Circus for the darkness of outlaw Denmark (the countryside, that is). Ciao London, see you soon (But not too soon!)

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Hello December!

It’s official. It’s Christmas. Get ready for ‘Last Christmas’ on repeat, an overload of nuts, dates and mint/gingerbread flavoured everything, and a general feeling of slight stress, if everything we do isn’t ‘christmassy’.

I love christmas, I really do – But I’m not very good at it. I’m good at the eating and drinking part (who isn’t?), but not so much at the preparation part. When I read other peoples’ blogs, everyone seems to have the entire house decorated on the spot at midnight on December 1st, ready and prepped for lots of christmassy photo shoots of artisan advent presents, home-made elfs, and a constant pot of hot mulled wine at the ready.

Most of the Christmas decorations I own, have been given to me by more christmassy relatives. I’m also quite lucky, as one Dane will normally send over a calendar candle in time for December first (I’m pretty sure this is a Danish tradition, adding to the christmassy stress if you get behind on burning it down, a little bit each day).

Luckily, England is much more about the going-out than the staying-in, compared to Denmark. Denmark is all about ‘hygge‘, preferably in a perfectly decorated Christmassy home. In London, you can rely on other people (mostly pubs or bars) to provide the flawless decoration, which is pretty convenient for someone like me. One thing I don’t get about English christmas though, is how acceptable a plastic tree is. I can’t imagine anything less Christmassy than a plastic Christmas tree, that you pick up from Argos at a discount. And get a ready made bundle of decorations in a ‘theme’ colour while you’re at it. I would rather have no tree at all.

Having said all that, I is more about the feeling than the setting. And I must say, that nothing beats Londoners, or the English in general, at getting together and celebrating.

I do think Christmas will sneak in to our little home sooner or later though. As will a real Christmas tree. And when I sit on the Ryanair plane in a few weeks time, ready to take off to Denmark, I’m sure I’ll be very excited. Excited to see the family, the dog, and the christmas tree with all questionable home-made decorations, that I spent my childhood producing.

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Ice skating and mulled wine at Somerset House

Well, if I wasn’t feeling Christmassy before, I certainly am now!

Last night Kat and I swirled un-gracefully around the Somerset House ice-rink for an hour. At first, we played it safe (very safe!) going rather slow around the edge, always within reach of the handrail. But we quickly became braver and ventured further out on the ice, and actually became pretty good at it! No one fell (Although it was pretty damn close a few times). It wasn’t pretty, but it was definitely fun!

When we got off the ice after an hour of skating, we somehow forgot how to use our legs the normal way, but we did manage to walk to the bar next to the ice rink to get a much needed mulled wine.

Somerset House sure is the perfect setting for ice skating. Surrounded by beautiful lit-up buildings on all sides, a huge Christmas tree and happy people, it did loads for my festive mood.

After ice skating we walked across the bridge to check out the Rekorderlig cider lodge at The Southbank Centre on the other side of the Thames and the Winter Market. It was nice, but not many stalls were open when we got there, and it was a little empty. If you plan on going, definitely go before 9pm and perhaps wait till we get a little closer to Christmas.

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