Adore and Endure

As part of this months ‘Travel contrasts’ linkup with Emma, Kelly and our lovely guest host Zoe I was going to write a quite emotional post. It was going to be about how I truly am a different person after three and a half years of living in London but then something happened, something big. I am in the painful process of moving flats and was discussing at work how the new flat only had a washing machine, no dryer. Stick with me here.

I was postulating that it will be annoying to dry my sheets and it might take a while in a basement flat in winter. Then it happened. Global political relations crumbled and Queen Victoria rolled over in her grave as my colleague asked “what do you mean sheets?” (Emphasis on the plural).

Queue my very confused face and me saying “two sheets, you know the top and the bottom one”. This moment was as close to winning The Voice as I will ever come as four colleagues with their backs to me turned on their swivel chairs and exclaimed almost in unison “TWO SHEETS??!!”.

We booked a meeting and got a flip chart so we could really knuckle out what the hell had gone wrong in the UK/NZ relations.

So…New Zealanders in general use two sheets, one is fitted and goes on the mattress and the other is a flat sheet that goes underneath the duvet – when you buy sheets they come in a set with both elements included. You then sleep between the two sheets which means because you are not getting your sweaty self on the duvet every night you don’t have to wash the duvet as often. And yes you still have to wash the top sheet but it is quicker to dry than a duvet cover and you don’t have to go through the hell of putting the duvet back in the cover. HELL.

Brits however are just mental patients who have the bottom fitted sheet but then free ball it by sleeping in direct contact with the duvet. Inefficient both in terms of washing time and also in the summer months where they miss out on the joy of choosing at three am that you are little too hot with the duvet and just going sheet only. Love.

You would think it is the big contrasts that would cause the most outrage, but this sheet issue almost came to blows within five minutes. And then did come to blows after ten.

With defectors on both sides and threats of destroyed relationships and sectioning we decided to just shake hands and walk away. Me to my snuggly suitable to all weather low maintenance looks great bed, and them to the manky duvet only lifeless fun pits.


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London Bridge Expat Problems

I have been a very bad blogger, its three days into this months travel link up and I am only just posting! But I am in the middle of planning my next big adventure (its on a boat!), so today it is. The topic this month is our most surprising destination which is beyond tricky. I spend every trip completely surprised because the destinations in reality always blow my imagination out of the water.

So it comes back to London, it always comes back to London. I honestly thought when I moved here that I would only be staying for three months. I had lived in London before (well, Kingston but Greater London still counts) and it was totally not my scene. What was the point in a big crowded city that was exactly the same as home but with a funny accent?

I packed my bags and flew to the other side of the world, needing a break more than anything else. And, ah, well. I fell in love with London. Over two years later and I am not only still here, but am fully committed to expat life. Yes I miss my family more than anything, and I have my down moments, but London is where my heart lives for the moment.

Given some of my travel stories, I’m sure you expected something more outrageous for my most surprising destination. But to be frank I still can’t bloody believe I am an expat living in London.

Royal Pavilion

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is officially my favourite palace in the UK. It’s not the biggest, nor does it currently have Royals sleeping in the beds; but what it does have is insane interior design.

The interior is Chinese inspired, with walls painted to look like carved jade, nodding Chinese statues and dragons everywhere. I love the balls/creativity of the designer, when he couldn’t source real bamboo (or just didn’t want to use it) he just painted other wood to look like bamboo.

The Pavilion was built over many years by George IV; a womanising drunken lout with no responsibilities, too much public money and gout. He built it as a pleasure palace, with all the space in the world for entertaining but conveniently no room for a spouse (which may be the reason Queen Victoria only stayed a few times during her reign, she was a bit fond of Alfred after all).

The room which I fell in lust, love and heavenly delight with was the banqueting hall. In a room covered in dragons, hybrid Chinese-English paintings, Masonic symbols and more gilt than even Napoleon could have dreamed of, it is the chandelier that stands out. It is 30ft high, hung with 15,000 shining crystals, has six dragons breathing out glass lotus lamps instead of fire, a giant mirrored sun disk and is all held in the claw of a 12ft FLYING SILVER DRAGON. This is the extreme opposite of understated elegance.

Also of note is the music room with a ceiling of 10,000 gilt cockle shells (and another incredible light fitting), the modern kitchen*, Queen Victoria’s bed and King George’s bedroom full of hidden doorways.

Mind blown.

To read more about the Brighton Pavilion, take a look at the posts by their resident blogger Chris.

P.s. the Royal Pavilion was also used as a military hospital for Indian soldiers during WW1. The beds were all lined up in the fantasy world that is the banquet hall, can you imagine recovering while being watched over by a giant silver dragon?

*modern because it is right next to the dining hall and not in another building as was common at the time. Oh and the ceiling of the kitchen is held up with four copper palm trees, just casually…).


Hi Y’all

As part of my cultural experience I have decided to get involved with Red Nose Day 2013. Until the 15th of March (Red Nose Day) all profits from my jewellery sales will go to help kids in the UK and in Africa.

Just think…you get pretty sterling silver jewellery and you get to feel superior because you donated to charity!

What does Red Nose Day do?

“In the UK, you help give shelter to young people living on the streets and protection to those living with domestic abuse. In Africa, your money saves thousands from malaria and provides whole communities with fresh water and life-saving vaccines.”

All you need to do is purchase as normal from Etsy and type “Red Nose Day” in the message box.

So get amongst it and get buying!