runawaykiwi-in-the-snow

I seem to bring extreme weather with me wherever I go. I was in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago and they had a freak blizzard. Me being the ignorant Kiwi living in London that I am, I assumed that Sweden was just snowy all winter, but apparently the locals were surprised by the snow storm as well. They have not had snow like that in a few years, and even then it is normally in January not the beginning of November.

When I arrived on Monday there was a light dusting of snow on the ground. Don’t get me wrong it was more snow than I had seen in years, about the same as London got on the snowiest day a few years ago, but nothing to stop life functioning as normal. I was so excited, I mean SNOW. And it was good snow, snow that stayed where it was meant to and looked great in the background on Instagram.

Tuesday the snow was in the air, lightly falling. It turned my 15 minute walk to work into a 25 minute walk to work, but I wasn’t mad at it because it was beautiful. Like Winter Wonderland but not full of fairground rides and terrible excuses for human beings. Tuesday was great.

Wednesday was the apocalypse.

Wednesday was so much snow that all public transport stopped, cars couldn’t drive, and I fell over twice. My 25 minute Tuesday walk turned into a 40 minute shuffle through the snow as svelt 70 year old Swedish men ran past me in the snow drifts. Why was I shuffling I hear you ask? Oh, just because I was entirely unprepared for snow and the only shoes I had were my Converse. My Converse that have so little grip in the snow that they may as well be roller skates.

swedish-dog-in-the-snow

If it weren’t bad enough that I had to walk in a snowdrift that was up to my knees (as I said, the Swedish were surprised too and hadn’t got the whole snowplough shindig organised yet) I had the lovely joy of a Swedish person stopping me every 15 minutes to tell me I was wearing the wrong shoes.

When you are standing in a blizzard with a dog trying to pee on your semi-frozen leg it is really hard to know what to say to the person pointing at your feet saying “those shoes are wrong”. I went with the “oh shit really?” approach, because it was better than weeping into the snow as I tried to get Amazon to deliver snow boots to ‘somewhere in the blizzard – Stockholm’.

First time it was funny, twelfth time I was ready to stab them with a frozen herring.

snow-in-stockholm-in-november

Side note: during winter in Stockholm they normally have handsome men roaming the rooftops pushing off the snow, they make sure the footpath is cordoned off first to avoid accidentally killing someone. However, because it was a surprise blizzard the handsome men were off undertaking other duties. This meant that every so often a significant amount of snow would spontaneously fall off the roof, and if you happened to be underneath it you may die. Snow is fun.

It was an amazing experience to be in a city covered in snow, from inside a warm building it was my favourite thing in the world. From outside? After falling on my ass for the hundredth time as a local pointed at my shoes and rooftop snow of death might kill me…. I will take London rain any day.

Oh, and dogs in the snow are perfection.

Hello my name is chaos street art

I know that to make this more click-bait-able the list should be an uneven number, and should have between 9 and 15 entries. But with such post titles as “the post about the chocolate butt plugs” and “Three brunches in three hours – oh god what have I done” in my archive, I don’t need any help making my blog more like click-bait. I also know that at this point I should be leading with a motivational quote about finding happiness inside and telling you to pause for 30 seconds to absorb the quiet.  Well, not that I don’t love a Pinterest motivational quote but London ain’t quiet. I mean at the moment there is a plane flying outside, I have Youtube in the background, my phone is beeping and the washing machine is struggling with life … LONDON DOES NOT DO QUIET. And I just ate an entire packet of biscuits and am indescribably sticky. Throw me at a wall and I will stay there for a week.

I made a vow that I would make my posts shorter and more to the point… that is going well.

I’m determined to keep this under 500 words.

First practical tip is one that I heard a million times before but ignored out of laziness and skepticism. People have always said that you should take Vitamin D tablets during the London winter…turns out you should take Vitamin D tablets to get you through the London winter. I think this is my first winter out of 5 that I haven’t felt a downturn of mood at the darkening nights. Yes it could just be a coincidence, a result of where I am in life or the packet of biscuits I just consumed – but seriously this is a total change to how I normally feel during London winter. This is the one I have been taking (click here) and I have NO IDEA WHAT THE 3 STANDS FOR. Three times the amount of D? Don’t we all just want three times the D….

I am 100% unqualified to give any kind of medical advice, so do your research and check with a Doctor if you are worried. All I know is that I think it has made a real difference for me.

Onto number 2 and I have 115 words to do it in.

I woke up on Sunday in a foul mood. Really raging at the world. I had been up late the night before at a wild puzzle party (Read: I did a puzzle) and I think the late night and sleep in just ruined my outlook. Normally I would reach for coffee to solve this, but yesterday I did something a little weird. I cleaned my bathroom. Just the sink and toilet, nothing too crazy, but holy shit it improved my mood. I think it was because no matter what else happened I had accomplished something with my day. So tomorrow pick something little, wholesome and life improving and do it the second you get out of bed.

499 words BITCHES.

 

London to do list street art

The dregs of summer are still holding on but don’t let it fool you; winter is coming. Black tights are back on trend, the tube is starting to smell of wet dog and ‘drinking to keep warm’ is soon to be the day drinking excuse of choice. Its not all bad, winter in London has a magic of its own. As a kiwi, December over here feels like a Richard Curtis film – drinking mulled wine in a Christmas Market by the Thames has the ability to stop time, all that is missing is a creepy as fuck Hugh Grant. But apart from the delightful few weeks of Christmas, winter in London can be long, dark and hard. #thatswhatshesaid

It seems to me that more people decide to move back to NZ during winter than any other time of the year. It gets to the point where you go to work in the dark, come home in the dark and you lose the will to live a little. With the cold, the rain and the fact that your family is on the other side of the world winter can be fucking hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Not if you do your #winterprep now.

Once it is the middle of November or January you will be too cold and seasonally depressed to do anything to kick yourself out of it, that’s why you are going to plan for it now. Right now, this week, go online and find all the fun things that are floating about this winter. It might be a play, a list of the best Christmas markets in London, where to drink mulled wine, a magical winter trip to Paris, ice skating in the moat of the Tower of London or re-enacting that scene from Bridget Jones (underwear and a Greek restaurant). Anything that you think could be fun and a little special.

It does not matter what your budget is, going off on a skiing holiday is not the only way to enjoy winter in Europe. The point is that you have planned it now, you have something to look forward to, and by the time it comes around on a cold Friday night and you are exhausted from work and your boots are soaked because of the rain you get up, go out and have fun anyway.

View over London from the Shard

I would set your expectations that ‘Winter crisis time’ will be November, January and February. December as I said above is magical enough and you only really have to worry about not embarrassing yourself at the work Christmas party. It is those other dark months that will hurt. I beg you, do your #winterprep now so that you have a smile on your face and I still have friends in London come Spring.

What are my plans I hear you ask? This year I want to go to all the London Christmas markets. I ditched them last year because I was all cynical and didn’t want to face the crowds, but this year I want the magic. I am also on the hunt for some exhibitions or plays (if you book early you can get tickets for as low as £12), and I really want to go to one of the Waitangi day services and have the girls over for Valentines day. Also I want to learn calligraphy. Random, but still something I am planning for.

Seriously team, doing your #winterprep now is key. It will mean the difference between hating the next few months and having enough bright spots to get you through. Book something, anything, today and tweet me using the hashtag #winterprep. If you don’t, I will know and I will be very disappointed.

London street art birds flying

This post is going to be one long and rather terrible metaphor. Long because I don’t know how to do short sentences (side note, apparently Charles Dickens was paid by the word which is why his books were so long…I am not paid {by the word or otherwise} so I don’t have any excuse [in my defence I talk like this too]), and terrible because I failed English and I don’t actually think it’s a metaphor. Oh and its not one maybe-metaphor it’s two. Ok, still with me? Let’s go.

Near my work there has been a bit of pavement cornered off for a couple of weeks. Two weeks of council workers crowding round looking at pipes and exposed wires while one guy did all the digging. I didn’t really even notice the area was cordoned off, barely registered that I had to walk around it. You get so used to things getting in your way when you walk around London that you just adjust your course and keep going. I mean most of the time the obstruction is a group of French school children smoking on a school trip, or an obnoxious banker talking to his mate Tarquin on the phone – but regardless after a while you don’t even notice.

But then today it was different. I rounded the corner and all of a sudden there was a clear footpath, a whole two meters of clear paving stones for me to march over like a boss.

POTENTIAL* METAPHOR WARNING

*because who the fuck knows if it is actually a metaphor

This sudden stretch of clear pavement made me think about anxiety and winter.

That cordoned off piece of pavement near my work is your brain when it’s high on anxiety. Without noticing that you have changed your course, you find yourself covering the same tight path time and time again. Parts of your brain are all of a sudden inaccessible while particular thoughts (normally not great ones) become high traffic. Trapped in this one path you traverse the same route again and again and again. Thanks to anxiety you can’t see a path out either, you didn’t know you were shifting course in the first place. But then like the council finishing roadworks you can suddenly use all the pathways in your brain again, nothing fundamentally changes but your thoughts are more open and chilled. You can use your full footpath again.

And a cordoned off piece of pavement near my work is winter too. February in London has everyone on the edge of insanity, googling holidays in the sun just to get through the day. It’s not the cold, it’s not the dark, it’s not the rain; it’s all of the above. Even in a mild winter, like the one we just had, come the end of February we are all just fucking over it. But I know (trust me here) that give it a few weeks and we will have a whole new pavement to play on. With the vaguely more reliable weather and it actually being light when you leave the office London will open itself up. For a magic few weeks everyone acts like giddy children, staying out far later then they should enjoying the freedom of those two meters of pavement that spring will bring us.

If you are still with me after all that you deserve gin, all the gin.

Happy Friday y’all