Tag: london living

Scale: no longer a problem

We finally bought a kettle. It’s a Russell Hobbs, which is meant to be the leading brand in the UK.

This warning made me chuckle.

Descaling warning
Descaling warning
In Cambridge and London, I had to regularly cook my kettles with lemon or vinegar to get rid of the build up of greyish white scale.

I’ve now escaped hard water. In Melbourne, our water is sweet, our soap lathers and the only particles that float in our cuppas are tea particles.

London in Melbourne

My London workmates gave me a great present from Muji: London in a Box.

I’ve now set up the London skyline on my desk in Melbourne.

London city scape in my office
London city scape in my office

Here is a close up of a few pieces (from the Muji website).

London in a Box from Muji
London in a Box from Muji

Muji also sell New York in a Box (soooo iconic), Italy in a Box (the whole country? Surely Rome has enough landmarks?), Germany in a Box (heh, I wonder if they include a big broken wall), Paris in a Box (I don’t think the Eiffel Tower is much good), and Edo in a Box (very delicate cityscape).

Man, I love these wooden toys. By the way, this is not a paid advertorial for Muji.

The Roxy

After an evening of pub and bar hopping, my team at work often ends up at The Roxy. Somehow, I’ve managed to miss out on all these excursions. The next day, I hear the stories of my boss’s wild dancing, the who-pashed-who, etc.

I began thinking that I couldn’t leave London without experiencing the team night club. So I sent a meeting invitation to my work friends.

‘I would like to go to Roxys on Friday. Is it crazy to plan such a thing? Please join me.’

On Friday night, remarkably four attractive bachelorettes and I hit the town together.

First we went to the pub. I had pear cider. Then we had some filling and tasty burritos. I paid extra for guacamole, yum.

At a Scandinavian bar where my friends spun a wheel and made me drink whatever the arrow landed on. The drink was called ‘Chilly Willy’ and it turned out to be a spicy blackcurrant-flavoured vodka shot.

Finally, at the grand hour of 9:30pm, we arrived at The Roxy. We paid the discounted early bird entry fee and found ourselves alone on the dance floor.

I had the most enormous fun, leaping around the floor like a gazelle, shaking like a buffeted strand of seaweed, striding backwards. My mates had fun too. Some danced barefoot.

By 11:30pm, a crowd had joined us on the floor. It was a distinctively young crowd. I read that The Roxy is a hang out for University College London kids.

The ground got sticky with spilled drinks. By midnight, I had declined two invitations to dance with expressionless boys, and had shaken off another overly expressive one (who pointed at me, then pointed to himself, then I shook my head, then he pointed at me, then pointed to himself, then I shook my head, then realised he was acting out the song lyrics).

I love dancing but have never been clubbing. I never realised how much time is spent fending boys off.

It wasn’t one way traffic, though. Some of my eligible friends made their own successful approaches to their quarry.

My final words on Roxy: Value for money early in the night if you want space to be silly. Music was patchy at best. Male patrons tend to be young and assertive. Fruitful hunting grounds for pumas and cougars.

Blue stripes are the new pink

I got into the lift on the fifth floor. At the fourth floor, a man joined me. At the third floor, two men entered.

Suddenly, I noticed that they were all wearing blue striped shirts. The stripes were of different thicknesses and the blues were of different shades. Nonetheless, there was a clear mega-pattern amongst the three men.

Even more curiously, one of the man was carrying a plastic bag… full of what looked like striped blue shirts.

Two and a half years ago, I marvelled at a lift full of men wearing pink shirts.

Perhaps now, with redundancies looming large, people are retreating to safer fashion shores.

Taking it down a notch

It seems that everyone had the same idea. I’ve been at BBQs all day, as friends have tried to grab the last warmth of summer.

The final BBQ, hosted by Wolfgang and Rosangela, was a true gourmet affair. I ate trout, chicken, steak, fat sausages, spicy skinny sausages, juicy hamburgers, the most delicious home made tzatziki I have ever tasted, couscous and vegetable salad, Greek salad, salmon and potato salad, spinach and halloumi salad, grilled mushrooms, courgette, aubergine, peppers and onions.

Even taking half servings of everything, I was stuffed.

‘Are you ready for dessert?’ they asked. ‘We have home made ginger cake with chocolate chips, pavê (a Brazilian tiramisu-style layer cake), and grilled banana with chocolate and ice cream.’

‘Gulp,’ I said. How could I manage this? There was no way I could miss dessert.

I excused myself and went to the washroom where I moved my belt clasp back three notches.

Once more with feeling

I held in my two hands a cardboard box of card and paper. As I crossed the street towards the recycling bank, I spotted two tall young blokes heading towards me, also carrying cardboard boxes.

What a coincidence. Must be a clean out weekend.

I knew I would get to the dumpster first and worried about making awkward conversation.

At the dumpster, my hopes for a quick getaway were thwarted. My low profile cardboard box was still too tall for the opening. It was stuck. I mashed it uselessly.

‘Punch it!’ said the first bloke who reached me.

I whacked box with my palm. It slipped a little further in. Encouraged, I jumped up and used the momentum to power my next pound. Jump-Pound! Jump-Pound!

‘Punch it! Punch it!’ the guy urged, grinning.

His friend had caught up with us and admired, ‘I love the violence.’

Fwoomp! The box fell in and this short jumping Chinese girl gave a triumphant, ‘Ha!’

I then scurried away, missing out on seeing how the boys would get their larger boxes into the same bin gap.

Tetris in a lift

When I went to visit Vera’s new home in London, I didn’t know how to get to her flat door. Neither could I work out how to ring the communal doorbell beside the main entrance to her building.

Also, I had left my mobile phone at work and couldn’t ring Vera for instructions, such is my genius.

Naturally, then, I waited for someone to arrive and I tail gated them to get into the building. Joan the burglar at work.

I hovered in the foyer, trying to figure out my next move. Vera’s flat was number 11. I logicked that it could be on the first floor but I couldn’t see a staircase.

There was, however, a lift. A woman walked passed me, pushed the lift button and entered. I rushed in behind her before realising that the lift was tiny. There was barely room for two people.

‘Floor?’ she asked graciously.

‘Erm, one.’ I was embarrassed. If I knew my way around, I would have walked.

Suddenly, there as a pizza delivery man in front of us.

‘Come in,’ my lift mate said graciously again. I gasped silently.

The pizza man folded himself in and with some experimentation, held the pizza aloft and above our heads.



‘Smells good,’ I commented during the pitiful interval between the lift taking off and stopping at the first floor. I darted out before they could reply.

Well. It turned out that Vera’s flat 11 was on the third floor so I had to find and climb the stairs anyway.

Patience on Saturday

Last Saturday, Rebecca and Ian came to visit me. They are friends from my Cambridge days (now 2.5 years past!).

Fortunately, none of us were in a hurry because it turned out to be a day of waiting.

I went to Kings Cross Station to see in their train. Patiently, I stood at the end of Platform 1. It seemed their train was late. Then I got a phone call from Rebecca. They too had been waiting for 15 minutes, only at Platform 8. English trains aren’t like German trains. They change platforms at the last minute.

Bus 30 from Kings Cross would drop us off directly in front of Ottolenghi, one of my favourite restaurants in the UK.

We waited 10 minutes and bus 30 arrived only to go straight past the stop. We waited another 15 minutes and no bus 30s arrived. We decided to take another bus and walked 10 minutes to the restaurant.

At the restaurant, there was a long queue. There always is. I think Ottolenghi is a lot of people’s favourite restaurant. Again, we were patient. There was plenty of beautiful food in the deli to gawk at.

From Ottolenghi, we decided to skip the hour long bus ride to the Natural History Museum and take the quicker trip via the Tube. The Tube is quicker only in theory, though. The Circle and District lines were shut down so it was like rush hour on the Picadilly line. In the end, it did take an hour to get to the museum.

The last time I visited the Natural History Museum, I walked straight up the grand steps to enter. This time, I was surprised to have to join a queue. It moved slowly, then quickly, then slowly again. At the top of the queue, they were checking bags. This is a new bit of security that I also encountered at the British Museum a few months ago.

We were at the museum to check out the new Darwin Centre. I had listened to a podcast about from ABC Radio National’s Science Show. It’s funny when I learn about London and England from Australian news sources.

We followed the signs and found ourselves at the end of the line. Before we knew it, we were swept into an archway and up some stairs by a wave of harried parents, children and prams, past the orange sign pointing to the Darwin Centre to the right.

‘Hey, where are we going?’ Rebecca asked.

‘I dunno, maybe this goes around and ends up at the Darwin Centre,’ I hoped.

And so we were trapped in the dinosaur gallery for an hour. It was hot, noisy, dark and fascinating. Stumbling to the bright, cool, calm, equally fascinating Darwin Centre afterwards was a relief.

No more waiting after that, it was smooth sailing, except for the bit where I lost my new glasses.


Back in Australia, I enjoyed three weeks of sunshine and beach. Only when I came back to London did I realise how quickly I had tanned. Once I had put on my foundation for my first day at work, I looked in the mirror to see a white face attached to a brown neck!

Just kidding, it wasn’t that extreme. In certain light, though, the difference in skin colour was noticeable.

Joan at the beach
Joan at the beach


I heard a skid, then a loud thud, angry car horns, and three different sirens.

There is a big smash at the intersection near my flat.

Now there is an ambulance and a crumpled red car parked on our curb. It is flashing blue into my bedroom window as I am trying to sleep.