Monday, 29 August 2011

Notting Hill Carnival

Yesterday, me and a friend from university (who also moved to London recently) hit the Notting Hill Carnival. Neither of us had been before and it was, well, amazing!

This was the exact reason I moved to London.

When we first got there, we kind of followed the route around having a dance and generally joining in with whatever we went past. Some of the floats were interesting to say the least, some were beyond bizarre

Then after about 3pm, it really got going and we found this absolutely insane rave going on in  a school playground:

I realise this looks like more of a squish than a rave, but it was.

And it was absolutely brilliant! We raved there for a while before we went for another wander, ended up joining in with another two different raves which had just pitched up on a couple of street corners before we headed back to the school-yard rave until it started to get dark and wind down.

So, how would I sum up the day? If you ever get the chance, GO! It was absolutely amazing, there's no structure or plan so don't try to have one, just turn up and roll with it. You'll meet some amazing people, dance to some amazing music, stuff your face with some amazing food and generally rave like you have never raved before with a different party on every corner.

Can't wait until next year!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Some secrets are best kept hidden.

I've been with my boyfriend for about six weeks now and he does not, nor will he ever find out about this blog.

I don't mean it  in a harsh way, and I will never say anything here about him that I wouldn't say to his face but sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to have somewhere to vent something.

Like today. I posted a vague tweet earlier in which I said I wanted to go home. Why did I say that? Because yesterday and today I am bloody homesick for Devon and Plymouth. It's not because I'm unhappy here, it's just because I miss it because it's beautiful and calm and I really want to go and sit on a beach right now and then pop to my Grandma's to watch X-Factor.

But even so much as mentioning it in passing and I get a full-blown inquisition and it is then decided that I absolutely must be very depressed or that I am not happy in my relationship.

Actually, I just miss my family and being at home. Nothing personal, no imminent signs of depression and nothing unusual or odd about missing friends and family and being jealous because I can see all my Plymouth friends are going on a night out tonight and I can't go.

Yet I get grilled about it and forced to talk about it for hours, which I don't want to do. It's not a big deal, it really isn't.

So for those moments, I'm glad I have my blog and I will strive to keep this little thing going as long as possible to keep me sane during these exact moments.

If you read this and help me keep this going, then thank you.

In other news, I'm off to the Notting Hill Carnival tomorrow. Any words of advice as to what to check out, let me know, though I'm sure it will be a great day regardless. Can't wait!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

New routines.

I have a desperate need to have a routine. When my boyfriend is here or I stay at his, I can cope out of my routine for three days absolute maximum before I start getting anxious so it's been great over the last couple of days to settle, finally, into a routine again. It's just mornings really, at night other than turning the lights off and snuggling with a cup of tea for half an hour before bed time, I tend to do whatever takes my fancy but in the mornings, if I'm not in my routine, I tend to spend lots of time fussing and faffing before getting nothing done. Then I get anxious.

And lie-ins stress me out anyway, they are such a waste of a day and this really bothers me during the holidays. Clearly I am weird for thinking this but give me an early night and an early morning any day.

So this morning I started over, set an alarm and despite it being the school holidays, got up as if it were a school day.

This is every weekday morning for the rest of the year:

6:30 - wake up
6:45 - wash, get dressed and straighten hair
7:00 - take vitamins with a glass of orange juice whilst the kettle boils to make a cup of tea. Prepare breakfast whilst tea is brewing. Eat breakfast, sit and chill with a cup of tea and some breakfast telly.
7:20 - clean teeth and (if bothering) put on makeup
7:35 - walk to school
7:45 - arrive at school

I then finally got home from school at 7pm. For the fourth day in a row, and the eighth day in total for the holidays.

Didn't someone once tell me teachers get 6 weeks holiday a year? Who are these mythical teachers and where can I get their job...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Two weeks to go...

This time in two weeks, I will have woken up after an awful night's sleep (more than likely). I will have danced my way around the flat with excitement. I will then have picked up my keys with shoes, bag and coat on and ready, stood at my front door and realised what I'm actually going to do and then, probably, cry.

This time in two weeks, I will have gotten over that panic attack (or at least will be doing a fricking good job of pretending I'm calm) and walked to school. I will busy myself with a few odd jobs which won't need doing because everything is already sorted for the first day. Then I will go out to the playground and collect my class.

My class. With 29 real, live children. Children who are my responsibility. Not just to keep them safe, but to actually manage them and oh my goodness is that going to be a challenge and a half and then, on top of all that, I actually have to teach them things.

I'm fairly certain I don't know how to teach.



Tuesday, 23 August 2011

My two furry new flatmates

I realise I have been a truly awful blogger this month and I would apologise but we've been having far too much fun enjoying London to sit indoors on my laptop... which makes a change (not only to the weather but also my attitude). But as of tomorrow I'm getting myself back into a routine of working so normal service will no doubt be resumed.

So anyway, I thought I'd share my two furry new flatmates with you all: a couple of days ago I went out and bought myself two new dwarf hamsters to keep me company when I'm here on my own! Here they are:

Rosie and Posie the hamsters! I can't tell them apart in any way though so they will just have to be referred to in a collective sense!

Although my plan for them to keep me company seems to be going to pot right now because they don't like me and don't get up if I put the lights on when it gets dark. But I'll have a nice cheap electricity bill so I guess it's swings and roundabouts.

They like eating spinach leaves, papaya chunks and sweetcorn. They like me when I feed them those things and they will already happily run onto my hand and sit there to eat. So fricking cute :)

They are already very spoilt, with a big cage and a wheel, two exercise balls, a run with a large maze and a see-saw, plus lots of wooden chews! They blatantly got better treatment this week than my boyfriend did...

Monday, 15 August 2011

London observations: Left or right?

Just a quick one... why is it that everywhere in this country it is polite to keep left when on staircases, yet on the London Underground you have to keep right on escalators?

This has always made me wonder. Any suggestions welcome.

That is all.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

London riots.

I know I'm a few days late with the commentary on this, but I've had a friend to stay this week. The poor girl had no idea how to cope with what we dealt with on Monday, she'd never been to London before and it was very much like, "welcome to London, mind the burning car".

Not sure where this was taken, but two other Police cars were torched in Woolwich too.

Monday was obviously the worst night and it truly was terrifying. Another friend we were having dinner with lives on that road in Tottenham you saw on the news on Saturday, the one they looted to the point of there being nothing left. But actually, it was safer to stay there than it was to come back to Woolwich. Not that we could have gotten back if we had tried, it kicked off so badly in Woolwich that they cancelled all the trains and buses so the decision was made for us but clearly that part of Wood Green was the place to be - there was nothing left to loot so there was very little trouble. We did get evacuated out of Morrisons at 6pm when a very large group of people started to decend down the High Road (I don't think any of us have ever walked so fast), but other than that it was fairly peaceful.

Coming back here on Tuesday was a shock, Woolwich looked like it had been bombed. Stepping off the train and being met by the smell of burning is scary to say the least and it was at that point we felt we couldn't stay alone that night without the boyfriend there. And in fact, we were pretty much ready to all go back to Plymouth after we walked down Plumstead High Street to find two blokes trading the two biggest knives you have ever seen in broad daylight, clear as anything... that is how scary London has been this week. It's either been full of riots and burning buildings, or drug addicts and various other crimes happening in broad daylight because everyone knows the police are after one lot of people and one lot only. Only in London could they put 16,000 police officers on the streets and it make the city a scarier place.

The post-riot commentary on various news channels is now driving me insane. Did you know that as a child raised in a single-parent family, I therefore have no respect and enjoy a bit of recreational looting? Oh, and I also own a Blackberry which obviously means I use BBM to arrange riots. And to top all that off, I also use twitter! Who knew I was such a dastardly criminal. For goodness sake...

The one thing I think these riots have proved, however, is that as much as most people in London don't know the names of their neighbours, never say hello to anyone they don't know (even in shops, did you know it's weird to talk to shopkeepers here?) and generally have a reputation for being unfriendly, actually, Londoners are far from it. Despite what the media said, I spent most of Monday night watching twitter and 98% of the #londonriots tweets were messages of support, prayers to keep people safe and people passing on information to keep people safe - not to encourage rioting, but to keep people safe. Then, for every one rioter who was out on Monday night, there were probably 50 people out the next morning with brooms, bin bags and some good old-fashioned elbow grease ready to clear up the streets. Life continued the next day, we spent the day on the Southbank and although as 5pm drew near it was evident everyone was nervous and twitchy, otherwise people were defiant and lead a pretty normal day. Londoners are actually pretty brilliant and everyone went from being scared to being pretty flipping proud to be here.

A boarded up shop in Peckham with messages of support. Image from the BBC here.

Have a look through the pictures if you're interested:
Riots on Monday:;
Some pretty scary before-and-after shots:;
Other parts of the country:;
The clear-up -

Let's hope this never happens again. Heal well, London.

Monday, 8 August 2011

London observations: Religion.

Religion is a massive in London. Like, really, really huge. Churches are over-subscribed to the point that Sundays usually require several services, Mosques are huge and Fridays see outpourings of people which I have only ever previously seen at large events like football matches and to me, that is amazing. Religion, here, is mainstream. Not for the 'sad' or the 'losers' or just that place you go on Christmas Eve for midnight mass.

In Plymouth, those religious few really are just that - a few. They are the minority who are mocked by the rest (the non-religious population) and most churches and the synagogue are struggling to survive. Bearing in mind the fact that there is so little demand for a mosque that the only 'mosque' is essentially someone's converted garage, and you get an idea of how different it is here.

That's why I find it so amazing that everyone is so religious. I knew of the diversity before I moved, but the fact that churches are so over-subscribed here that some services attract upwards of 1000 people? It amazes me, it truly does.

Religion in general amazes me to the point of being almost jealous of those who are religious. To feel that strongly that there is an all-loving God who looks over them and their families and to have that to turn to when you need support or guidance must be a great comfort. I don't know what I believe, but I don't believe that. I don't believe that if there truly is an all-loving God (I am talking Christianity here, although it applies to all religions I guess), that he would just sit by and watch the awful things which happen in this world go on. I know he gave us all free-will, but if I were God and I sat upstairs watching a man rape a child and I were truly all-loving, I would take free-will back and kick some ass. Or I would at least have a cheeky flick of some clouds in the direction of Somalia. No-one would ever need to know, but suffering would end. Simple.

Which is why I can't believe in God. It's not that I don't want to, I spent most of my teenage years as a part of the local church community through Girls Brigade and Sunday schools, and whilst I strongly believe in the Christian values and ways of living (tolerance, patience, forgiveness, treating others as you would wish to be treated etc), I just cannot bring myself to believe the stories or the existence of God at all.

Or if there is a God, he's rubbish. If I were marking his work I'd be using a "Try harder next time" stamp. And therefore, I wouldn't worship him anyway.

So, religious people of London, enjoy your communities and enjoy your beliefs. You're lucky to have them here, and lucky to have it at all.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

So, today I start my health-kick!

Being in London has really messed me up. My diet has gone to pot; I haven't done any exercise other than walking and the one day's cycling round London; I can't afford a hair-cut, nor have I found a decent hairdresser who can style my hair in any way other than an afro or corn-rows (a consequence of living in a predominantly black-african/black-carribean area)... generally, I'm a state! My hair, my skin, my energy levels are all generally dreadful so I need to get back to being healthy.

I kick-started this this morning by whipping up a nice big pot of carrot, lentil and coriander soup for my lunch, I've planned my meals for the rest of the week to keep healthy when my friend comes to visit and I've found the details of the kick boxing club near me which I can join. I used to do kick boxing a while ago but when my school closed I couldn't carry on so when I saw the same chain of schools had a club near me, I became very excited. I love doing it so much, it's a killer workout and such a confidence boost and, of course, means I can finally get my black belt! I'm only about a year away if I really get training... might even have a cheeky practice tonight and kick-box my way round my front room before I have a nice long bath, deep-condition my hair and generally sort out the state that is, well, me.

All this as well as having cleaned the entire flat this morning and, at some point, starting the massive to-do list to get my classroom ready for September. It's already looking better now I've moved the furniture to where I want it and put up the backing paper and boarders for my displays but it's still looking empty and lacking in personality (despite the 20 hours I put in there last week - anyone who says teachers get 6 weeks holiday clearly has no idea...). Once my friend goes home next week it really will be time to get going and blitz that place, and I can probably fit in 5 hours before I go and pick her up at 1pm on Monday anyway. For now, though, I shall get back to my laminating and VCOP pyramids...

Monday, 1 August 2011

London Observations: Personal Space.

Now I've been living in London for a month, there are many things I have noticed which I thought I would share. I hope in doing so I can find out some of your stories and assure me that it isn't just me who attracts the weirdos and unusual experiences! So here's the first of many.

Personal Space.

In every culture, and particularly ours, there are very clear social expectations about personal space. There is a limit we all know and understand about how close we can get to someone without it seeming awkward and uncomfortable and this is even more pertinent when meeting strangers.

Yet, in London, and particularly on public transport, all of these social norms seem to fly out the window (or they would if there were any windows on the tube). Whilst we all understand that overcrowding means we are often forced to stand very close to, often touching, someone else, there is still a certain Britishness about the way we pack ourselves into the carriages side by side in order to maintain this sense of personal space. This usually involves being stood with one arm firmly on the lowest point of the rail to hold on and the other firmly rooted to our side.

I only make this observation today after spending nearly 20 minutes stood pretty much inside a fat man's armpit. And let's bear in mind here that it has been 27 degrees Celsius in London today and on the unventilated underground, said gentleman's armpit was of course, not a dry one. And it was at this point that I realised the sense of personal space, and everyone's understanding and respect of trying to maintain this at all costs on the underground, and how we take it for granted.

And isn't it just typical that I would be the one subjected to said torture. He could have held onto the vertical bar as opposed to the horizontal one on the roof; he could have held on directly above his own head rather than stretching out to be well above my head; the guy opposite could have helped me out of the situation in some way rather than giggling at me and winking... But this opens up another of my London observations which I will write up another time.