Category Archives: London
The Hive at Kew Gardens is a unique installation that is connected to a real bee hive. The lights light up based on real interactions taking place in the bee hive. It’s big enough to take a walk inside and really beautiful after sunset. A friend and I went and enjoyed a cocktail and chat on the grass before going to investigate properly. Great for a chillaxed evening.
After four years in my London 8-6 office job, I have decided to take drastic action and leave to do something amazing.
I am moving to Costa Rica to teach English.
Now don’t get me wrong, this was not an easy decision to make. However, my need for change, adventure and my growing dissatisfaction with work meant the decision was made relatively quickly.
I had the idea in June.
I booked the course and flights in July.
I left work in August. My last day was Friday the 14th of August (ten days ago).
I will fly out on the 13th of October, giving me some time to sort out any loose ends before I leave.
I chose Costa Rica for its abundant wildlife (I originally planned to take time off work to do a wildlife volunteer project with turtles there) and because I intend to be fluent in Spanish one day.
I did intend to teach English in the sun (Spain) one day – when I retire. But while I was thinking about what kind of jobs I wanted to apply to now, I thought to myself ‘why wait?’. Why wait to live a life in the sun, doing relatively flexible work and living somewhere I enjoy?
Stepping away from friends, family, a steady job and steady income to step into the unknown is a BIG STEP. I have never been to Costa Rica so this is a big leap of faith. And I am reminding myself that if I don’t like it, I can always come back or go somewhere else.
I do know that I will be doing a one month TEFL course (Teach English as a Foreign Language) in Manuel Antonio, near the beach, and staying with a host family for six weeks. I don’t know what Costa Rica will hold for me in the long run, this is something I will have to find out…
This is a challenge, that I *think* I am ready for!
A delightful week of eating well and drinking!
On Monday, I booked a table for seven of us to have dinner at Tayyabs. This is a delicious BYOB restaurant near Brick Lane but with much better food – and admittedly worse service!
I remember first going to Tayyabs probably about ten years ago, when my sister took me there with some of her friends. It was much, much smaller then. Since then, it has at least quadrupled in size and to be honest, it’s probably a little overrated. The food is always good (especially the lamb chop starters) but I’m pretty sure the service is some of the worst in town.
This time we had been waiting for over 30 minutes before the waiter even came to take our order. He forgot to take the order from one person before he left and it was near impossible to get anyone’s attention. It took a further 40 minutes before our food arrived. On the plus side, the food was good! Despite knowing the service here is generally awful, I’m still happy to go back – not too often. The food is reliably good.
On Thursday I went to a little Thai restaurant near Kings Cross called Paolina. It is a family run small cafe with what I imagine is authentic food (I haven’t been to Thailand yet). It’s very reasonably priced and BYOB. The fish cake starters were really good and my thai green curry was tasty. I’d be happy to go back some time, but it wasn’t especially outstanding. It’s definitely good if you like cosy cafe style restaurants.
And to finish the work week – drinks near the office. A friend suggested the Whistling Shop. I hadn’t heard of it before and as a fan of cocktails I was looking forward to checking it out. It’s a speak easy style bar with lots of original drinks. It has a relaxed atmosphere and I was surprised I didn’t about this place given it is next door to the Blueberry bar where I have been for drinks a number of times. A big thumbs up.
This was followed by dinner at Meat Liquor near Bond Street. I really like this chain – great trendy atmosphere, service and food.
We started with a delightful drink called ‘pickleback’ that consists of a shot of bourbon and a shot of pickle juice. What’s not to like!? For my meal, I had the bingo wings, chilli fries and the red chilli burger. All delish. Followed by a hard ‘white russian shake’ with Kahlua and vodka. SOOOOOOO good.
I’ve never watched Rugby before, so when a friend suggested going to see the Rugby 7s live… I said ‘sure’! Tickets came to about £30 each, and I later learned that there is a fancy dress theme each year. This year the theme was ‘galactic’.
I went yesterday with two friends and was surprised that the game was really interesting to watch! It did help that there were lots of fit men running around in shorts. The best thing was the positive and fun vibe. You know when you are surrounded by people dressed as Bananaman, Superman, Jedis, Sailor Moon, Bender or covered in star stickers that when they are drunk, they will probably not be angry drunks. And we walked around a bit too and found an outdoor area with music and a booze bus.
Overall, it was a great sunny day of Rugby and cider and beer with good natured drinkers.
Following the rugby, which finished at 6 pm, we made our way to Clapham Junction for dinner and drinks. Dinner was at Mien Tay, a BYOB cash only Vietnamese restaurant that is about 5 minutes walk from the station.
The summer rolls were good but I found my # 61 beef pho to be very bland, so I was a little disappointed with my main.
After dinner, we went across the road to the Sugar Cane Bar – a place I had walked past a number of times and intended to check out one day. And I’m glad I did! It’s a great bar with fun decor and great cocktails. I enjoyed the ‘Hairy Coconut’ and ‘Strawberry Collins’. Apparently there is a dance floor downstairs – I didn’t make it that far, but perhaps another night…
Early on Saturday, I visited Two Temple Place – a mansion that my friend correctly described as a ‘hidden gem in London’. It is a beautiful mansion that is open to the public a few weeks each year. I was very impressed by the grandeur or this place, and how I had never known it was right there by Temple station. I saw a beautiful Cotton to Gold exhibition with collections of old hand decorated books and transcripts, as well as impressive mosaics and insect collections. It’s definitely worth a visit if you get the opportunity.
Lunch was at the Social Eating House, sister restaurant to my favourite Pollen Street Social. Great restaurant and great food. The prix fixe menu was very reasonable (£21 for two courses, £25 for three courses) and I’m practically planning my next visit. The pea soup was very good (although I had starter envy with my friends having the mussels), I enjoyed the pork belly and the chocolate ganache was delicious. (I still prefer Pollen Street Social though)
In the evening, I went to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. I’ve heard a lot of weird and wonderful things about this place. The doors didn’t open until 9pm and it was packed by 11pm. There’s a friendly vibe here, everyone was willing to have a good time. There were a couple of acts for the ‘Duckie’ evening – a comedian and… I don’t know what to call him… an entertainer? A lovely chap called Cockney Ken who is in his 80’s and serenaded us with tunes like ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’. It wasn’t really my cup of tea. But it meant the music and dancing was that little bit sweeter when the act was over! The music was very eclectic and I had a great time dancing til’ it closed at 2am.
On Saturday I joined a Meetup.com in London for Photography at the Grants Museum of Zoology, near Euston. I didn’t actually know this place existed! It’s quite small and houses 68,000 specimens. I really enjoyed it, especially as someone who loves biology. From the photography side, it was a very good opportunity to practice taking photos in low light and through glass. The highlight for me was the huge python skeleton.
I had lunch with a friend in South Kensington at Casa Brindisa. This was on her recommendation and I was pleasantly surprised! The tapas were really good, and I would go back for the chorizo in cider. Mmmm….
And after this we went to the V&A to check out the Alexander McQueen exhibition. I just went along for the ride, but I’m glad I did. Obviously I’d heard of his name, and I was really impressed by his originality and passion for his art. I felt quite artistically inspired – I even went home and did a painting the next day!
It’s worth having a look if you get the chance.