My journey begins

After many cocktails, laughter, tears, Facebook pictures with family and friends reality hits, final farewells, in 24 hours I’ll be gone, a little dramatic, jetting off. I awake feeling anxious and teary eyed as I kiss my dog Harry for the final time. My eyes swell with tears once again, damn allergies. My fiancée Sarah and I board our 10.30am flight with 52kg of luggage ($50 excess mainly Sarah’s clothes and shoes) from Cairns with stopovers via Sydney, Hong Kong and eventually Heathrow. Don’t you just love long haul flights, cramped seats, turbulence and no sleep? Although the food aboard my $3000 one-way Cathay flight was quite good; go the beef.

Feeling jet-lagged, tired and a little irritable I arrive into Heathrow at 4.30pm, pass through customs and skip duty free. I’m incapable of carrying one more item (I groan as I pass the alcohol) and board the underground destination, central London.  If you’ve been fortunate to visit London you’ll appreciate the chaos involving the underground during peak hour. Quite stressful when you have four suitcases, two pillows, two backpacks and a large carry bag.

To reach my hotel in Bloomsbury I needed to switch three trains. From Heathrow I caught the express to Paddington for £25 (clean and leaves every 15 minutes). At Paddington, I purchased a 7 day Qyster Card (zones 1-2) for £25. Great value and you’re able to travel unlimited times around these zones and buses are free (zones 1-6).

Here I go: Jubilee line, Central line and finally the Piccadilly line to Russell Square. For the faint hearted, the tube (an excellent mode of transport around London) is a jungle during peak hours and no one offers you assistance as you climb the stairs like a Sherpa carrying your whole life (which converts to 52kg). I arrive in Russell Square lathered in sweat, hungry and tired, two hours later. I check in; shower, brush my teeth and head out.

Time to explore Bloomsbury, one of London’s best areas for green space, beautiful statues and lovely gardens. Also known for famous writers Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster, the free British Museum (www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk) and actor Ricky Gervias is known to frequent the local pubs and Indian restaurants.

Designer stores, swanky and not so swanky restaurants and your never ending supply of fast food outlets are in abundance at Brunswick Park. Pubs are popular in England (average meal from £8 and around £2.80 for a pint) and you’ll find large groups of people outside the pub drinking, talking and smoking. I like that part of the culture, except the smoking.

I grab a quick £2 meal deal from Tesco express (located all over England) which includes a salad sandwich, drink and a packet of chips or Kit Kat, done. Time for bed even though it doesn’t get dark in summer until 9pm. Tomorrow I’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on London. Bugger, I wake up at 11.30pm and stare at the ceiling, darn time difference. Sarah are you awake? lol

Cooper 

Wickedly Good

Am gradually starting to settle in to London life now. I surprised even myself by getting a little homesick, and felt teary-eyed last week because I missed my dog. Don’t get me wrong, I still miss him, but am much happier than I was. We’ve set up our flat with food and cooking appliances, and have even watched a few movies via the trusty laptop and some inexpensive speakers I found. Side note: I Love You Phillip Morris with Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, and Leap Year are great movies – worthwhile if you need to kill a few hours.

Today I’m job-hunting… well, not right now – soon.

I won’t be watching too many movies because there are SO MANY amazing shows to see here. Last night we treated ourselves to Wicked (wickedthemusical.co.uk) – the first big stage show I’ve seen in years, and very first ‘Broadway-style’. Wow, amazing!!!! Worth every penny. Still on the list (following scoring a paying job, that is) are Dirty Dancing, Lion King, Mamma Mia and numerous others… along with anything at The Globe and I’d really like to see Ghost Stories. Spooky…

Just a quick update, until later… Sarah

 

Upon arrival…

We have been in London for about five days. Our temporary accommodation at The Holiday Inn Bloomsbury is convenient, clean and safe and we have discovered a really chic little precinct in London. Wouldn’t mind living in Bloomsbury some day. We were lucky to score a ‘family and friends’ rate at The Holiday Inn, and to be honest the price was comparable to dodgy hostels (we’re a bit ‘old’ for that lifestyle now), yet we can house hunt and job seek with the knowledge that our luggage (all our treasured possessions) are safe and sound.

 

Our first port of call on Friday (first day here) was Smart Teachers, the very efficient and organised recruitment company who secured Cooper a wonderful job here in London. They arranged bank accounts, phone sim and much more for us. It’s a good idea to have a company like this back you before arrival in London.

 

Yesterday (Monday) was house-hunt day. Today I can hardly walk.

 

We searched from one end of London to the other, initially starting close to where Cooper is working. Unfortunately we discovered these weren’t the kind of suburbs we are keen to live in here, so the hunt continued. Hour after hour, one tube station following another. We dragged ourselves into Kings Cross Burger King around 2pm to re-fuel before viewing yet another expensive and disappointing box in the ‘burbs.

 

Following an exhausting day we do have some good leads to start on today… excluding the dodgy ‘too good to be true’ option we found on gumtree.com that seems to be more and more like a scam – ’email us your details and deposit the rent and we’ll post you the keys’ – sight unseen. Um…. no! We have called and emailed many agents for help but no one was very forthcoming with information or assistance. Our advice would be to befriend one or two agents in an area you are keen on, but the only way to research this is to do the legwork, literally. We spoke to a lot of people before heading over here though, and ‘nice’ suburbs mentioned include Maida Vale, Edgware, Shepherds Bush, Kensington, Swiss Cottage, Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Notting HIll.

 

Helpful resources for those of you moving here in the future – TNT Magazine and their website, accommodationlondon.net or just plain old Google.

 

Off to our next appointment now… somewhere near Elephant and Castle tube station. And yes, there is a statue of an elephant with a crown on as you walk outside towards the shopping centre here 🙂