I think by now we have well established that I am terrible at packing. It’s not that I forget anything important, more that I am entirely unprepared for whatever weather gets thrown my way*. I swear I check the weather forecast before I go, but the day I arrive inevitably a freak weather system rolls in and I am entirely screwed. Over Christmas I think I finally nailed it, I was the packing master (not in the Dr Who sense, I wish). I managed to pack for a 40°C fluctuation in temperature and not freeze or boil.

I was in New Zealand to see my family over Christmas where, due to being on the arse-end of the world, it was summer. On my way back to London I needed to head to Chicago for a week where the temperature (I hoped) would be around 0°C, but because its me it was actually -20°C. Yay me and my weather curse.

I took my big suitcase (can hold up to 20kg) but because it was Christmas I only had half of the space for potentially lifesaving clothes, the rest was allocated for Christmas presents; last time I went home for Christmas Santa (my parents) gave me an entire towel set (including bath mat and two face clothes) so I had to be prepared. Yes, you can get towels in London and yes my parents were aware of this but decided to go for it anyway.

What was a girl to do? Turns out it was to just pack the same things for both temperatures. Yes I know that makes as much sense as a chocolate tool set. NB: I got my Dad a chocolate tool set for Christmas and it was amazing, the bolt worked and everything. Anyway, hear me out with the packing theory.

I am not a stylish person, no matter how long I look at cool girls on Instagram I inevitably end up wearing jeans, a black H&M singlet and a sheer shirt thing over the top. If I am very lucky I might even wear an actual shirt, but since I only iron twice a year there isn’t a high likelihood. This lack of style makes packing rather easy, jeans year round and the same top no matter what the weather or circumstances. That top I have that looks like an avian themed 70’s wallpaper? I have worn it to interviews, parties, on dates and to work. Fashion confuses me. If anyone knows how to change this please DM me.

Anyway, I packed as if weather did not exist in my universe and then made four additions.

  1. A pair of shorts
  2. A puffer jacket
  3. A bobble hat
  4. A pair of gloves

I turned up to the airport in Chicago wearing jeans, jandals (I’m a kiwi, I always travel with them) and a puffer jacket looking like a girl who totally has her life together.  I got laughed at the moment I walked into the office in Chicago (happens wherever I go), but to be totally honest with a puffer jacket, a hat and gloves you can survive almost anything. And as for New Zealand, it was its normal terrible December weather and at 20°C I was completely fine in jeans and a t-shirt .

At this point in this blog post you might be rolling your eyes and are almost ready to click off. BUT hear me out. Before anyone goes on holiday there is the inevitable ‘holiday tax’. You go and spend money you don’t have on clothes that you NEED just for the holiday. I call bullshit. Living in the endless grey weather conditions that make up London you have almost all the clothes you will ever need (unless you are literally going to find polar bear), take the money you would have spent on that top with the pineapples on it and spend that on a bath of chardonnay when you arrive. Clothes will never make for the perfect trip, being there is what is important.

*Seriously, I am in Stockholm at the moment. I when I looked last week it was all meant to be sunshine, today there was a snow storm…the snow was going sideways…my shoes are ruined.

I have my fear of flying fairly under control these days. This is mostly thanks to exposure therapy (aka traveling for work) and those magical Gin Gins that set my mouth on fire to distract me from the turbulence. But holy hell the flight I just got off almost had me back to my crying on strangers days.

To be very honest I think I would have cried on strangers if it weren’t for the fact that I was sitting in the middle seat and the man to the left of me clearly had the flu, and the girl to the right of me was a statuesque ice queen who stole my arm rest. I was out of crying options. From the moment we took of until we were just outside Stockholm it was horrible turbulence. The sort of turbulence that is reminiscent of a roller-coaster from an illegal Disney theme park where there are ‘hidden Rickeys’ everywhere.

It was all because of some fucker called the jet stream. According to my extensive research (I googled it) jet streams are the mammoth winds that move weather systems around the globe. For a pilot it means fun times because coasting along in one like a metal albatross makes the plane go faster. For me the jet stream means spending two hours in the middle seat of the last row of the plane, frozen with fear as I imagine the fiery death in front of me.

Of course (spoiler) I didn’t die. I am currently in the back of a taxi and have just had a lovely chat with my driver who is Somali and lives in Sweden but studies Italian. I don’t understand how flying still causes such a fight or flight reflex in me. Yes I am better, and long haul is easier because I try to fly on A380s or Dreamliners, but still a smallish plane and non-stop turbulence can take me right back to square one.

Part of me wonders if it is imagination. Whereas James Bond can walk into a room and see 100 ways to kill people, I can walk into a room and see 100 ways that I will fail at life. When I fly I can’t just accept the science and statistics, I KNOW that things can go wrong (even if there is an almost 0% chance) and my brain just extrapolates from there.

It’s not going to stop me travelling of course, mostly because it is literally my job and and quite like being able to pay rent. But as I check into my hotel and try to unwind my tense mussels I will be cursing the jet stream with every creative word I know.

Five years in London is coming up alarmingly fast. Five years when I only thought I was moving to London for three months. I now have two homes, two homes on opposite side of the world – the distance makes it a little hard to pop over for a coffee. Every time I am in London I miss New Zealand, and when I am in New Zealand I crave London.

I love where I am and I don’t want to move home any time soon, but a little bit of my heart remains 18,234km away. Instead of a post today here is a little video from me to say what is too hard to put into words. Enjoy xx

One of the motivations for moving into my own flat is so I could have people over without it feeling weird. Not that any of my previous flatmates would have minded, but I was always hyper aware that my having friends over pretty much put the living room/kitchen off limits. We have all had that moment of walking into a room in pajamas only to see your flatmate and friends gathered around a wine bottle or two.

But dinner parties are something I love, they are a shed load cheaper for people than going out to a restaurant and a lot more relaxing without the rest of London breathing down your neck. The problem has been that I am a complete newbie when it comes to cooking. I can cook a multi course feast under my Mums watchful eye (aka, she warns me when I am about to do something irreparably stupid) but on a normal day I struggle to feed myself without burnt bits, strangely runny bit and awkward flavours that never quite work. I mean I guess if I followed a recipe I might have more luck, but I don’t deal well with being told what to do…

Previously I knew that putting time in would work, the Christmas feasts take two days to prepare. But particularly in London no one has time to spend all day cooking, no one has time for anything, if I had to spend that long cooking I would never throw dinner parties. So instead I have just leapt in feet first and decided to figure it out along the way. Because SPOILER you only get comfortable cooking for other people….when you cook for other people.

I have had four dinner parties in my new flat and so far have not killed anyone (that I know of, if I have please let me know). Each time I do it I cut the time down by half (the Galentines dinner last night only took me an hour to cook and that includes cleaning the flat), I learn another little thing to make it easier and of course something goes wrong. So far over my collection of dinner parties I have learned:

  • Make the first person who arrived in charge of getting everyone else drinks as they arrive. Trying to get someone wine while the food is burning and you just got chili in your eye is less than fun.
  • Heat up your dishes (like whatever you serve the food in) before you put the food in, turns out that when you have a group of people food cools down really quickly.
  • Literally no one flatting in London has enough plates or cutlery for more than four people, people are happy to bring their own or steal from your closest friend.
  • If you keep drinking it won’t matter when all the food goes wrong

What I have learned is that even if the food does go terribly wrong people are NICE. They wont say anything because at the end of the day it is more about getting people together than perfect chef made food.  And I’m learning, each time I cook for someone else I am slightly less stressed, slightly less drunk, and enjoying it far more.

Sorry this turned into a ramble. What I meant to say was, you can’t expect to be good at something overnight and you can’t let inexperience stop you from having fun. If you want to have people over, start with paper plates and pizza and step by step work your way up.

And if anyone can tell me how to figure out how much food a group of people would eat it would be much appreciated, at the moment there is an equal chance of cooking twice the amount I need or everyone starving.