I’m back! Hi!

It’s been over a year since my last blog. I was thinking of giving up on this blog for good.

Life took over, work took over, and a British winter is just about dreary and sad enough to put anyone off living here, so that being said, I felt no inspiration to write about it. I remember one day the sun set at 3:30 in the afternoon. It was the shortest day of the year and I was questioning why we left Mexico for this. That first winter in England was horrible. We were completely broke and our apartment was cold and mouldy. We didn’t have many friends and (I for one) was so completely sick of the rain.

They say your first year abroad is the hardest. It didn’t feel like that in Mexico. It was the first time I truly understood what they meant by that statement. That Christmas we stayed in London. We wanted to go somewhere but as was the norm that winter, the money ran dry. There was no turkey, no tree, no family. I had the worst cold I think I’ve ever had, which we later found out was because of the awful mould problem in the flat. New Year’s Eve, I sat curled up on the couch with my friend Leslie on the phone, listening to the cheering and fireworks from the London Eye. I was sicker than a dog and feeling majorly depressed. I so wanted to be out there celebrating our first NYE in London!

 

After that Christmas B got his first job in the UK and things started to pick up. We had just enough of the British winter and took off for a long weekend in the Costa del Sol, on the south coast of Spain. It was amazing. It was everything we needed…sun, beaches, margaritas and a change of scenery. It reminded us of the way life was in Mexico, which quickly feels like a dream after a few months in the big city.

 

As the winter drizzle lifted, so did our spirits. In April we spent 5 days in Ibiza with K&A, who have now become two of our best friends. I love every moment we spend with these two. It was such a great trip. I took advantage of every single second I could basking in the sun, often laughing to myself about how all I did was try to avoid the sun months earlier in Mexico.  The things we take for granted.

Life got better and better over the year. Living in London does get easier!

Most weekends we spent exploring England or heading to the beach. In August I spent a glorious 3 weeks in Canada. I spent an amazing long weekend in BC for a friend’s wedding. It was incredible and probably the most fun I’ve had in years. I then spent a week in Kelowna with my family where it was 34 degrees! We bummed around at the lake and drank beer on sunny patios. We got too much sun and took a billion pictures. It was completely perfect. I spent a week in Calgary trying to squeeze in every minute I could with the most important people in my life. It’s never enough time when you know you’re leaving for at least a year again, but I’m so grateful for that time. It was like no time had gone by and it felt like a trip back in time, to what a summer would have been like a few years ago. Leaving was hard and made me think really hard about the end goal  – why I’m choosing to live thousands of miles away from so many loved ones.

After last winter we promised ourselves we would do something different next year. If we came here to travel then Christmas would be somewhere different and somewhere amazing. This Christmas we’re going to be in Malta for 11 days.

We’re also planning a trip to Italy for our 3 year anniversary in the spring! And I promise this time, I will blog about it all, including stuff in-between.

Xo

L

Finding balance

I immediately feel spoilt writing this blog, but I’m going to write it anyway.

 I feel spoilt for already missing Mexico and looking up flights to go back on my lunch break. I love London, I do. This first month has been wonderful. But it’s been wonderful in a different way.

Mexico was unpredictable, spontaneous, and constantly surprising, which is all very refreshing stuff for a girl who is used to planning every last detail of life (even by the very name of my chosen career, event planner…) so, as you can imagine, Mexico where nothing can possibly be planned for was a lovely change.

Although living in Mexico was not practical for long term life sustainability, it’s definitely something I recommend for every woman who lives vicariously through their lists and Outlook calendars (like me).

Allowing myself to be completely consumed by the tropical life gave me a new perspective on life. I allowed myself to get fat, and lazy. I got too much sun and I drank too much beer. I ate too many tacos and spent too many lazy days lying on the beach just because I can. I let my calendar collect dust and I left e-mails unreturned.  I wandered through un-planned areas and had un-planned adventures and I don’t regret a second of it.

Coming to London was our compromise between giving up our opportunity to travel and have adventures in life, and handing over our souls to western society’s expectations of us, (Or, to the ‘man’ as they say).

It’s not hot, sunny, beachy and tropical, but it’s 1 hour away from Paris, and a cheap flight away from destinations I’ve always dreamt of seeing. The job isn’t weddings and sand, but it’s practical, a good step in the career ladder, and pays enough for a nice flat in a nice neighbourhood, and affords us a few holidays a year.

That being said I believe we have found an excellent balance between, Mexico, and Canada.

It’s stable and practical, while still allows us to travel and have new adventures.

And, I do have to admit, it’s really nice to have an office to go to, a real paycheck to look forward to, and the financial stability to plan trips to Europe.

But Mexico has a special place in my heart and I still believe that no matter how much of the world I experience,  there’s no place quite like Tropical paradise.

Perfect flat, where are you?

So another morning of searching the web for the perfect flat in London.

I’m staying with my friends. They have a fancy coffee maker, it makes cappuccinos and everything. Except I tried to froth the milk this morning and made a big mess.

Anyway I’m getting off track. I’m searching for apartments in an area called Putney in Greater London.

They have shopping, pubs, parks, a tube station near by, and lots of European type looking flats. It’s close to my work, it’s closer to the Thames River, and all the attractions of downtown London.

Putney High Street

The search has been a bit daunting. I’m trying not to sound too much like a foreigner when I inquire. So I’m trying to use as many English sounding words and phrases like “I do not wish to have a flat mate” and “I’d be delighted to arrange a viewing”.

Searching for a place to live over there is different.

They have all these …’Maisonettes’. What is that? I’m not sure. I would have guessed a small mansion. But it looks more like a shared dorm room to me.

And, they have many studios. In London, a studio typically isn’t an open concept sexy loft type place that you can bring your friends to and show off how unconsciously trendy you are .

The studios are even smaller than my current bedroom and questionable on if they would  pass as an actual ‘suite’, and are usually just a room in someones house. Just because your kids moved out of your house, it doesn’t mean you can put a sink in there and turn their old room into a ‘cozy studio or lovely maisonette’.

I am learning that by moving to London, although a life long dream come true, I am giving up any hopes of having a decent sized closet, any real privacy, or a proper kitchen to practice my sort of new found cooking skills in. (Yes, that happened).

Also, of course a necessary step to considering a flat is how close it is to the tube station. Just to give you an idea of HOW MUCH FUN this particular step is, here is the tube map…for your reference…

Are they actually being real?

But despite all of this, there’s still this kid like excitement when I look on google street views and it’s all black cabs, red double deckers, pubs, post boxes & everything is just oozing with so much awesome British-ness at every corner that it makes me want to frolic in puddles!!

I’m putting the laptop down now and am heading to the Stampede Round-Up to escape the virtual land of London and join the thousands of other Calgarians bring out their inner cowboy-girl!

 

Going back to London

Moving to London has been a dream of mine for over 12 years now. I was born in a town named Bedford in 1983, which is a town about half an hour north of London. Up until I was 9 years old, I lived in different areas of London, mainly an area in North London called Finchley. My sister and I lived there with my Nana, and Uncle Robert. It was a small apartment, but there was lots of them, so we had a lot of friends there.

It wasn’t a typical upbringing. An enjoyable weekend for all of us was hours at the local pub, the grown ups soaking in the sun over a pint of beer, and us kids playing on the bouncy castle, and this big wall that you could throw yourself up against while wearing a velcro suit.

It wasn’t what many Canadians would consider a ‘normal’ upbringing, but it was normal to me. I remember eating saveloy sausages and chips out of malt vinegar soaked newspapers, while watching the Lacrosse guys play in their bleach white suits. I remember walking through Regents part on the way to school, counting squirrels, wearing wellingtons, and twirling my umbrella. I remember having afternoon tea and baked beans on toast.

We didn’t have much money as my Nana was raising us alone, but we had big imaginations, and that kept us busy, and happy. There was nothing exotic or luxurious about my upbringing in London, but it was home.

After we moved to Canada when I was 9 years old, life got better and better. Our house was bigger, my sister and I had our own rooms, and everything was bigger, everything. I grew up with more and more friends and better and better jobs. I can’t really complain about the 18 years that I spent in Canada. But I can say that it never really felt like home. Even at 10 years old I completely felt how conservative the people where, and at that age I couldn’t even tell you what conservative meant. I felt like an outsider from day one. Partially due to the kids at school that didn’t like my funny accent and fancy clothes. As a new kid in Canada, I never felt comfortable with their sub-par use of the English language and over sized hoodies paired with baggy jeans.

I remember how hard it was for me to donate my little blue sailor dress with the matching white hat. That just wasn’t going to fly in Canada. I never understood why it wasn’t okay for me to wear that dress and be different, but at that time, it was just easier to be like the other kids.

We visited England many times in that 18 years and each time felt magical to me. I loved the rain, the smell of fresh cut grass, the fresh fish, the markets, the pubs, the castles, the rolling hills that made me feel more free and more myself every time than I ever did in Canada.

I learnt more and more about the family we left behind there over the years, and as I got older I realized what a blessing it was to leave England and move to Canada.

While we were living in Mexico, B and I started talking about England. My face lit up as I showed him all my pictures from previous visits. We spent most of the afternoon having the ‘what are we doing here and where to we want to be’ talk. We didn’t feel challenged, or motivated. We felt an intense desire to experience something new, and to see other parts of the world. We decided that day that we would move to England. We didn’t know how or when. But we knew it, the same way we knew we needed to go to Mexico.

The last week in Mexico I applied for a few jobs in London. One in particular that really excited me. I didn’t get my hopes up, but I did rush to the laptop every morning with a bit of sadness when nothing had come in. I didn’t apply for too many jobs. It was my last few weeks in Mexico and I didn’t want to waste it on the computer. We spent the last of our time in Mexico being completely indulgent. At the beach, at Casa Isabel, drinking and eating whatever and whenever we wanted. It was the best way I could think to spend the last of our time in Mexico.

When we got back to Canada. B went strait to BC to see his family, and I went to my grandpas house. I immediately fell into the deepest post Mexico depression. I went from having an apartment 2 blocks away from the beach in paradise, to sleeping in my old room again. I went from having an amazing job to no job at all and no money. I went from having all the freedom and fun I could ever ask for…to being back where I started in Canada when I was 9 years old.

Despite how unbelievably hospitable my Grandpa was, the depression was super intense. I didn’t know where my life was going and I felt like a failure. I felt silly for thinking I could just….leave Mexico and move to England. I felt defeated by life and like I had lost everything because my ridiculous ideas. 4 days into this, and I am actually contemplating taking up drinking full time.

B texted me that night from BC after I had too many beers and was living vicariously through my past in Mexico by sobbing over all the paradise like pictures. He asked me to come to BC and spend the weekend with his family. It’s amazing how easily B can turn my mood, and my life right around in moments. That’s not always a good thing, but in this instance, it was exactly what I needed.

The next morning I boarded the 8:30am flight to Kamloops and spent a lovely few days in BC with his family. One morning I woke up in the loft of his parents Cabin like home and received an e-mail from that one exciting job I applied for, asking for an interview. My heart starting beating faster and I felt melty. I felt like screaming and jumping and running. I can’t remember ever having so much energy and excitement.

All I could think for the next week was about this interview. About how this amazing job in London could change my whole life. About what I would do if I didn’t get the job. With no job, no money, no home…I didn’t even want to consider that a possibility. The next week I spent completely obsessing about this interview. I perfected the presentation they asked me to give, after changing it about 23 times.

That Friday morning I woke up at 4:15am to make it to my 4:30 skype interview. I didn’t care that perhaps they didn’t consider the time change. I wanted this job more than ANYTHING. I was surprisingly calm during the interview. Especially considering we had spent the first  hour of the interview troubleshooting skypes audio settings. But during the interview I didn’t feel nervous at all. I felt like I actually had answers to everything they asked, and felt excited to share with them my experiences.

After the interview I laid in bed. 5:30…6:30…7:30…8:30..I just laid there. But I couldn’t sleep. I was imaging B and I holding hands walking along the Thames river. I was thinking about me doing life changing work for this amazing organization, and all the poor people I was going to help. I was thinking about traveling through Europe, showing B where I grew up, the best pubs, the Westminster Abbey, the Big Ben, The London Bridge, driving through rolling hills and exploring castles on the weekends. I started to get completely crazy and thought about exactly how I would like to decorate my small yet cozy European style flat in London.

They said they would let me know Wednesday. It was only Friday morning. That weekend I pretended to listen to a lot of people I wasn’t actually listening too. Which is actually quite awful because I saw many awesome friends that weekend that I hadn’t seen since before Mexico. But I couldn’t help myself.

I could not stop thinking about English markets, art galleries, architecture, and experiencing real culture in a magical country. I daydreamed and imagined B and I just taking the train over to Paris for the weekend, just because we could. It was getting VERY out of control, but I maintained my composure, and mentioned it briefly in small talk at gatherings that weekend.

Monday morning I woke up and saw an e-mail titled “Major gifts and Corporate Events Executive – Offer”.

Before even opening the e-mail I quite literally dropped the phone, and unconsciously let my entire body fall to the floor, and cried the most dramatic cry I have had in years. I didn’t know why I had to cry like that, but I guess you never really know how you’re going to react when all your dreams have just come true.

I opened the e-mail to just confirm that it was indeed a job offer. That would have been tragic. But it was the job offer. It said ‘We would be delighted to offer you the position”. I laughed at how adorable their British charm was, and felt so excited to meet the team.

As B was on the road at the time, he sadly found out via e-mail, or Facebook, I’m not sure which one. I booked my flight for August 18th which gives me 3 days before I start work to look for the perfect flat.

Searching for a flat in a city of 15 million is overwhelming, to say the least. But of course it’s fun that my search for a flat in London is the most overwhelming struggle in my life right now. It still doesn’t feel real. I feel like the luckiest lady in the world.

However, I am not going for 45 days from now. So… that gives me lots of time to enjoy a Calgary summer before starting a our new life in England.