Fluorescent Heaven

God’s Own Junkyard is a place like no other, and probably one of my favourite spots in Walthamstow. If you’re ever visiting London, it’s worth the trip to the end of the Victoria Line (possibly combined with a visit to the Gin palace Mothers Ruin, or resident beer makers Wildcard Brewery, which are the nearest neighbours – Not the worst day out if you ask me!)

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All images are taken and owned by me – please do not use without permission.  

 

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The flat hunt is over

I’m very happy to report that our flat hunt has come to an end, and we have found a new lovely flat in the heart of Walthamstow Village. It even has a little back garden with lots of green grass, which I’m sure we will value highly when spring finally decides to arrive (When will that be exactly?)

So the packing has commenced, in a big way. I have made the mistake of packing all my clothes away, so have been forced to wear the same 10 items for about a week now.

The best part of moving to a new place, is that it’s a fresh start. I love getting creative with the decorating, and I can’t wait to make the new place feel like home. This in between face isn’t much fun, but there’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel. And, a proper nice bath which I can’t wait to drop a bath bomb from Lush into, and soak for while (I’m imagining candles, face masks, glass of wine, good book and Netflix – In reality, I’ll probably be bored after 5 minutes.)

So my life is full or organisation at the moment. I’m pretty good at making things happen, but I don’t particularly like it. On the other hand, I don’t like trusting others with the tasks either, so I’m running around my own little hamster wheel of death. Thankfully it’s all over soon, so I can let my brain think some more creative thoughts, rather than just numbers, dates and endless phone calls.

Our old flat has served us well. The one thing I will miss the most is the amazing view over London, and the feeling of being above the hectic city. But, as annoying as moving is, I am so looking forward to it.

 

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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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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The struggle is real

Today has been rainy, grey and felt like summer has definitively gone away and made way for autumn. On top of that, the normally lovely (compared to the central line) Victoria Line is half closed, and has been for the past two weeks.

Which is why I today found myself running up and down a train platform at Liverpool Street with a bunch of other people, desperately trying to find a 5 cm gap to squeeze my body into, just to avoid having to wait another 15 (!) minutes for the next train. It didn’t happen. The ‘don’t you dare try!’ looks from all the already incredibly squeezed people on the train, desperately trying to stay on the ledge of the train hoping the doors would miraculously close around them, discouraged me.

It really is every man (or woman) for themselves on the London train network at rush hour. Just like 10 minutes earlier, arriving at Liverpool Street on the Central Line, and a very capable man snapped up a seat right in front of an elderly man, clearly struggling to stand. I noticed a seat and rather loudly said ‘there’s a seat for you here’ to the elderly man, hoping the other capable man would feel a little bad about his actions. I’m sure he didn’t! But because if this, I almost didn’t get off the train as people starting floating on with panic in their eyes. I don’t have much love for the London transport system these days, as you can probably hear. It does make me appreciate the rather dreamy commute, for London standards anyway, that I have normally.

Yesterday I joined the Star Wars gang…

… more precisely, a Secret Cinema event. For one night, I was part of the Rebel X, opposing and infiltrating the Empire (e.g. Darth Vader and his people/Robots). As you have probably already noticed, I’m by no means a Star Wars fan or enthusiast. I’ve watched several of the films, but never in a very serious fashion – sort of the way I also watch Harry Potter. I quite like the universe and find them entertaining, but that’s about it.

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Image from http://www.thestage.co.uk

The whole idea behind Secret Cinema is that it is not just a film – You need to get dressed up as the character you’re given after answering a few questions on the website, and then the first 2-2,5 hours of the evening is all about being part of this special world. I can’t say much more, as that’s the whole point you see – It’s secret.

It was an amazing experience though, and even I, who is not a fan as such, really enjoyed it. There is constantly something happening, and the actors are amazing. There’s always someone running somewhere, and I spent a lot of time just running around after any action happening on the set. It’s a very real world, and amazing if you immerse yourself in it completely, and just go with it. Get involved with as much as you can, and interact with the actors – You’ll be surprised!

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Image from http://www.telegraph.co.uk

The tickets are a bit pricey at £75 each. On top of that, you can pay quite a bit for your costume too in the Secret Cinema shop (this isn’t a must though, but I would definitely recommend dressing up), and you’ll need to buy food and drink too – A cocktail is £7.50, a beer £4, and a water £1. If you are a hardcore Star Wars fan, you’ll have the time of your life. If not, you’ll still love it. It is so much fun! Just make sure not to drag a heavy bag with you, like I did. You’ll be carrying it around all night.

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Me, very excited, before the whole thing started

Moving, Holiday, more moving, and some pictures

I haven’t blogged in – forever? Life has been a whirlwind lately in every possible way.

We have moved flat (and therefore been without internet for about a month – Thanks BT). A move was never in the plans, but our previous landlady ‘conveniently’ decided that she no longer wanted to rent out her flat – So there was no choice really. We have however managed to find an amazing new flat, in the same area, with great London views and 2 floors. We’re not complaining (Apart from maybe the unexpected ginormous agency fees and of course the moving of the internet… Why is that always such a massive problem?).

And as if a move of your entire private life wasn’t enough, my professional life has been moved to. Our regular studio is being renovated, so we have all relocated for the summer. It’s all about the moving!

And to make things even more challenging, Joel and I had, prior to knowing of all this moving shenanigans, booked a two week holiday in Denmark, which resulted in us having to move flat one day, and go on holiday the next. Not ideal, but we have somehow managed. Safe to say we’re happy that there is no more packing to be done for a while though…

So the holiday in Denmark was a very welcome break. The weather was amazing, it was literally warm and sunny every day. Quite extraordinary considering how unpredictable a Danish summer normally is. There is nothing better than a Scandinavian summer night where it never truly gets dark.

We hung out with my folks, all the animals, ate a lot of food, had some bbq’s, went out on the town in Vejle where I grew up (With all the teenagers. When did I get so old?) and spend a couple of days in Copenhagen, where all my friends, conveniently, have settled down.

I know that I am the least reliable person to trust on this being Danish and all, but Copenhagen really is one of the loveliest capitals out there (and in my opinion definitely number one).

Will be back with some more meaningfull posts soon!

/I

 

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All images taken by me – Do not use without permission.

Day out at the Zoo

One of my birthday presents from Joel was a trip to zsl London zoo. Despite having lived in London for almost 7 years, I had never been to the zoo before, and was pretty exited to see it.

The verdict? It was nice. We had a great day out, and it wasn’t too busy as the school holidays are over. It is a nice park to wander around, and we spend most of the afternoon there. On the down side It was smaller than I expected, and I was quite disappointed by the fact that they don’t have elephants (I LOVE elephants), bears, hippos or rhinos. And only one tiger (which was a little disappointing considering as they have a brand new area called ‘Tiger Territory’). The animals looked happy and very healthy  though, which is something I’m always worried about when going to a zoo. Also, it’s advisable to bring lunch with you, as the prices are, as could be expected, pretty high. As in £5 for a tomato and cheese baguette. Or £10 for a small portion of Fish and Chips.

After the zoo we walked to Camden via Regent’s Canal, which is always lovely, and very recommendable! Lots of spectacular looking house boats, book sale, etc.

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