Happy 2011!

“Yooo hooo. Is anyone out there? Sarah? Cooper? Did you forget us? We haven’t heard from you for over a month!”

… I know, I know. Regardless of daily reprimands at each other to update this blog, ‘boring’ life and work simply got in the way. Instead of updating here with memoirs of our adventures we have been slouched on the couch at wee hours following big days on the job, sipping on a late night glass of red, before slinking, tired, into bed, and doing it all again the next day. It doesn’t matter how you try, real life creeps back in no matter where in the world you try to hide!

Finally some holidays are here and between when we last updated, and now, there has been a lot of snow, a flood in our building of flats, some loud disagreements in the hall outside during the night, another tube strike (or maybe two), festive parties, London Christmas lights, the patting of many a random cute dog in the park/street, and a trip to Brighton, Buckingham Palace and Windsor. Oh, and quite a bit of eating haha.

My lovely mate Julie gave me a call for Christmas while Cooper and I were enjoying a pint at a pub in Chelsea, and she shamed me into writing some more here, after all, what use is a blog if it is not updated? So, am sitting here at M+V Hairdressers typing up a BlackBerry storm while simultaneously waiting for my gross two-month-old re-growth to be prettied up in time for NYE.

No plans yet for the big day, but to be fair I don’t expect much. Nothing could top Darren Hayes last year (when ironically, we were also in London, but for a holiday). I’m sure we’ll come up with a fun option to see in this new year though. Christmas ended up being quiet due to work and weather issues, but we are now planning to do a big travel trip mid year. It’s also an opportunity to explore London, which we don’t get to do during working weeks.

On our free days this Christmas we have Googled ‘day trips from London’ in order to cherry pick some nice little tourist options. Over the next couple of days we’ll finally get to see Bath and Stonehenge, yay!

Life in London is quite expensive when it comes down to it, and the city is nice, but not ‘home’. Still, as I read the current copy of Psychologies Magazine, I am reminded to be positive for the year ahead. Dr. Robert Holden has written, “I mean choosing to be grateful about what you have rather than complain about what you don’t; choosing to forgive rather than hold grudges…”. A nice, timely message.

And while my cute little Italian hairdresser raves about how excited she is to go home for the weekend to Sicily, she unknowingly reminds me yet again to appreciate my family and friends. I would skype mum right now if it wasn’t 4am at home… At least I can turn the webcam back on, now that my hair isn’t hideous.

Happy New Year all xx

 

Brighton’s beachside charm

As the evening train sailed down the southern route from London towards the sea, all I could see was stark white snow lumped atop cars, buildings and air planes (all ground to a halt at Gatwick Airport). It was only 4.30pm mind you, but dark already; and snow had just fallen heavily from the sky. Britain was about to be shut down again because of the big white, but we did manage to make it to our seaside weekend escape, and our very first visit to famous Brighton.

The salty sea air was evident from the moment we stepped out of the train station: a change from industrious London. Brighton is hillier and larger than we had expected, bustling with bright lights and activity – the abundance of chic shops, clubs and eateries obvious and exhilarating.

I jumped excitedly out of the cab as it stopped on the Brighton esplanade outside The Thistle Hotel. Opposite me, sprawled over the ocean that I could hear but not see in the dark, was the romantic spectacle of lights illuminating Brighton Pier through snow-hazed cloud. It was a cold but charming experience, and especially nice for this coastal Aussie girl to be near the ocean again.

Stepping into the lobby of The Thistle (recommended to us because of its proximity opposite the ocean and to almost everything you would want to do in the city) my fiancé and I shared a knowing grin – this looked nice!

The hotel, its facilities and service were superb, offering a fabulous and friendly escape from London, and a walking base to everywhere of interest. Check thistle.com before you travel for excellent deals on accommodation, dining and seasonal events.

 

WHY IT’S HOT

By far one of the most unique attractions of Brighton is ‘The Lanes’, a contemporary twist on the back streets of ‘old Blighty’. Once the heart of the fishing town of Brighthelmstone, Brighton Lanes’ historic quarter is a fabulous maze of twisting alleyways showcasing wonderful little stores (designer fashion, jewellery, antiques, pet couture, homewares), coffee shops, restaurants and pubs. Even if you don’t stay overnight in Brighton, go shopping here for a day and experience the best of old world merged with new.

 

EAT AND DRINK

As self-confessed foodies, we were in heaven in Brighton. There’s so much to choose from (fine dining, comedy clubs, tapas bars, international cuisine, pubs, diners…) that it’s difficult to know where to start (and stop) but we would recommend two discoveries, both located in Brighton’s Lanes, not too far from the ocean front.

We found The Mesmerist (Prince Albert Street, Brighton) to be a large, clean, cosy pub with a nice selection of seating, beers and food. It’s described as being an “absinthe inspired wonderland of the weird and burlesque,” and is a perfect spot to sit, indulge in a wine, listen to some music and watch shoppers pass by outside. Conversely, Street Thai (Brighton Square) is smaller, quite modern but very well priced. The food and cocktails here were delicious and I look forward to going back for another Massaman Curry.

 

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY

A trip to Brighton would not be the same if you missed a stroll on the famous Brighton Pier. We were blessed with sun over our weekend in Brighton, and even though it was cold, there’s something enchanting about wandering around a pier like this, with its ice-cream stalls, game arcade, amusement rides, bar and restaurants overlooking the ocean. Brighton Pier is open all year unless weather is extreme, and photos reflect the epitome of what we all imagine is the quintessential English beachside city scene.

Simply wandering throughout the city and along the esplanade will inspire the photographer within, as landmarks like The Brighton Dome, Royal Pavilion or any number of streets and buildings dating back offer glimpses into Art Deco, Regency or Victorian periods.

It’s easy to see the allure of this charming city by the sea – endlessly entertaining regardless of the weather, and well worth a wander if you’re trekking to this part of the globe.

SB.

Brighton Sarah Blinco

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Cool new beginnings in London

Well it has finally turned cold – and wet, and rainy. It is a Monday morning in mid-November as I sit in the warmth of Starbucks (I know, they should sponsor me!). This time though, I am at a Starbucks in east London, sipping on a much-needed latte before work. My relationship here is now such that they know my order without me having to ask for it. ‘The usual, please’. I even have another ‘regular’ friend here – a lovely elderly gentleman who is always reading biographies in his same seat by the counter each day. But I digress…

Sarah Blinco Starbucks

 

Christmas carols and festive menus are now everywhere, brightly contrasting to the grey skies. In fact the awning outside nearly flew off, and it dumped water onto an innocent passer-by, how annoying.

I scored a job (lucky in this current economic climate) and have been working for about four weeks. It is good to be working, and the team is great. The workload, particularly admin, is immense and it is proving to be quite tiring. Am working in London and freelancing to Australia simultaneously, which is rewarding but rather busy. However, it is as I’ve heard – you work hard and play hard in the big city. I think how much I’ve learned in the few months we have been here, as I navigate my way between suburbs on trains, tube and buses. It’s quite extraordinary. All my friends are commenting on seeing Eat Pray Love (the film based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book of the same name) – they’re all ready to jump on a plane and go adventuring across the world, and I must admit that it’s nice to not be on the envy side of that equation for once. It is fulfilling to be doing and experiencing life, regardless of the challenges associated with stepping out of ‘the norm’.

The weekends here are really fun. Cooper and I now have kind of a date night on Friday, where after work we go and eat and drink in local bars until way past our usual bed time. We can walk everywhere so getting home is not a trial. We particularly like Bayswater, Notting Hill, Gloucester Road and Shepherd’s Bush. On Saturdays we do some exploring – like jumping on a ferry to see areas along the Thames, we go shopping in different suburbs to explore places we haven’t been to, catch up with friends if they are around… There are also amazing trade shows and experiences, like the Conde Nast Luxury Travel Show or the Discover Dogs expo at Earl’s Court. Love it!

Sunday morning is usually ‘errand’ time – washing, shopping, work then maybe a dvd. We are just enjoying ‘being’ in London. Saving has begun for trips to Europe and America, but with the exception of still missing Harry the Dog, life is full on, but ok in the big city. We’re meeting more people and making friends on and offline. All in all, we’re lucky and happy.

Time for work now, will check in later, SB X