1 August 2007

London calling! Yes I was there too...

I'm still having trouble believing that I'm actually here. It's a bit like a parallel dimension where everything's familiar but somehow slightly different. For example, at KFC they don't have chicken salt but you can order baked beans instead of chips. They eat baked beans with everything over here AND they drink Fosters. Bleech! As you would expect, the weather on the day I flew in was dreadful. Grey and rainy, thanks London! Thankfully, things have fined up and we are having a run of lovely sunny 23-25 degree days. The height of summer, they tell me.

I figured out the Tube on my first days here as I was only in my hotel in Kensington for 2 days before moving into some dude's room in Finsbury Park for a few weeks. For those of you who don't know, Kensington (south west) is really lovely and posh, and Finsbury Park (north) is pretty much chav (booner, westie) central...the Arsenal football club merchandise shop takes up half of the train station. As soon as I got there I saw a 45 year old derro in a tracksuit having a fight with a gang of 6 year old red-haired kiddies outside KFC...and the kids were winning. They were chucking cans and rubbish at him and he was screaming, ''Fook off, yer fookin coonts! Yer pack of fookin coonts!'' It was awesome! David, the dude renting me the room, assures me it's a nice safe neighbourhood, which was evidenced by the cops arresting a some young guy right in front of the flat. I've been there a week now and it's ok I s'pose. Very small, particularly as I'm rooming with a 2 kiwi guys and 2 aussie girls. It was a total pain having to lug all my stuff up there on the tube...not looking forward to doing it again. On the way back I was molested by a 7-foot drunken jamaican business man on the tube who wanted to have $ex with me because I looked ''dirtay, mon''. So alive this city!

I've been looking for somewhere permanent to live and have seen a whole bunch of really awful places. But on the weekend I found an awesome place on the east side in Balham with an aussie guy and english girl which looks great. It's a nice trendy area, close to parks, awesome Victorian house with lots of room, and mature laid-back flatmates who are more interested in getting along than clubbing or partying. I hope I get it...fingers crossed!

Have been doing a lot of sight-seeing and there's always something to see and do. My first weekend here I saw a Surrealism exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum and a Dali exhibition at the Tate Modern gallery. The Tate is an incredible gallery! It's built in an old power station and they kept the massive turbine tower as a feature. I've spent a lot of time wandering about along the banks of the Thames just in awe of all the amazing old architecture and these buildings which have becomed so ingrained in my mind through tv and photos that they don't even seem real. I was walking along on Sunday and BAM! There was Big Ben. Big friggin Ben! I'm dying for a ride on the London Eye but I don't want to go by myself. It takes a real effort to go out and explore on my own…I wish I had someone to share it with. But I can't spend all my time sitting in my bedroom…I may as well make the most of this place while I can. There's a Star Wars exhibition on which I'm totally going to next weekend, and it's on right next to the Dali museum cos you can never get enough Dali in this town.

Londoners are strange people, not necessarily unfriendly, they just keep very much to themselves, probably a result of there being so many people here…they value time to themselves. But then there's always throngs of people out drinking every night of the week. The pubs get so full they spill out onto the street. Work is going to take some getting used to, though. Because we're consultants we're always out in the field working with clients so we rarely come into the office. The few times we're there we have to get whatever hotdesk is spare so you never get to sit with the same people day after day…you don't even spend much time with the people in your team. It's going to make it really hard to make friends, but I met some great people during induction and have been assigned a buddy. Now that I think of it, I've got 3 drinks nights lined up this week, plus I caught up with an old ATO colleague who moved here 6 years ago on Friday for drinks...so can't really complain, can I?

I was assigned to my first project yesterday and it's based in Dublin. I'll be there full-time for about 2 months, flying back to London for weekends. Apparently it's quite rare to get an out of country gig, specially for a new starter, so I'm pretty lucky. Keen to get my feet wet and get stuck in to work again after so long, but a bit scared too.

Anyhoo, hope all is well. Drop me a line sometime.

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