Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Thank goodness for super glue

Yesterday, as I cleaned my glasses shortly after arriving at work, disaster struck!

There I was, happily cleaning away the grime that seems to accumulate on specs, how does it get there and is all that grime on everyone else's faces instead? And ping!  They snapped right in the middle of the bridge!

See, right down the centre.  So, slightly panicked, off I trundled to the local shops to buy some super glue!  As I am ever so slightly blind, I decided to try an even more temporary fix and walked to the shops resembling Harry Potter...

Luckily super glue was found and I now type this whilst wearing those specs.  However, I don't think I can rely on the glue to last and I now have the joyous task of glasses shopping.  True, this can be fun (at least when you have someone with you to take photos of you when you are too blind to really see what the samples look like on your face) but when it is a reluctant replacement it's not so cool.  Here's hoping that Specsavers have some good deals and frames!

Hope you have a more successful start to your days today.

Bis bald.


P.S.  Lots more Lakes photos to come, finally edited them all!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Back to the 9-5

Just a quick post, a real one to follow, to show you where I went last weekend.  The Lake District is stunning!  We were blessed with wonderful weather for two days, it rained cats and dogs almost every night but the tent (and it's inhabitants) survived.  

Here is my teaser photo....

View of Ullswater
Hope you all had a lovely weekend.  Cannot tell you how sad I was to pack up our tent, and how reluctant I was to go to work today.  But, it's hump day tomorrow so the weekend is already wiggling it's fingers in our direction.

Bis bald.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

I feel like Bridget Jones, well kinda...

Tomorrow I go on my first "mini-break" with T!  I'm so very excited.  We are not going to some grand manor however, we are heading north to Cumbria and the Lake District where we shall go camping! 

Looking at my stacks of stuff on my bed, as I decide what to pack into my backpack, it looks vastly different from what Bridget would have packed.  Even though we are going with a car and it shall be fairly easy camping, it is still a great stack of practical gear.  It is the first time I have really camped since 2008!  I am so very excited.  I am realising how little I can remember about camping though, so it's probably a good thing it's going to be the easy version with shops within driving distance.  Hopefully this will be the first of many such trips to the more wild and beautiful parts of the country.

Borrowed from this site

I've never been to the Lake District before, but I have wanted to go for YEARS.  Did you see the film Miss Potter?  That was filmed up there, maybe I'll spot Peter Rabbit sneaking off with someone's salad.

Wishing you all a most wonderful weekend, keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't rain on us the whole 4 days we're up there!

Bis bald.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Time to slow down? Just a little maybe.

I cannot remember a time when I have been so busy.  Okay, I tell a lie.  There were times during my time in Seoul when I was crazy busy, but lately it has been nuts.  Ever since I met T in fact.  

Don't get me wrong, I adore being busy, I go a bit nuts sat at home, alone, twiddling my thumbs, but I think I need to make a little extra me time here and there.  Just the odd day in between seeing friends and seeing T, for me to catch my breath (and help me not be a zombie at work).  

Reading this you probably think I am up late partying every night, ha, I couldn't do that if I tried!  I am just a lot busier than I am accustomed to and it's knackering me out a little.  I just need that extra evening to catch up with writing letters, looking for decent jobs and reading (to mention but a few things).

All of the above said, I am the happiest I have been in a long time and I don't want to seem ungrateful for this.  I don't like to rely on someone/something else for my happiness, but I can't deny that a certain someone has had a positive impact on my life.  I still get restless moments, but it's not the constant urge to be elsewhere that I once had.  I've let a few things slip, my correspondence skills of late have been shocking and I'm spending a bit too much money, but on the whole I am so thankful to have met T and to be enjoying the summer with him.

He goes away on Sunday, a "business" trip to Florida....  I'll miss him, but I can't deny that I am also super excited to go to London and spend a weekend with my girls next week!  We are going to see Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, I'll post a video so you can have a listen if you have not heard of them.  I love any band that let's me say "hey!" or whistle.

The rest of this week and weekend will be taken up with dinner with a local friend, and then a cinema trip and day with T before he leaves for the U S of A.

Do you have much planned this weekend?  It's not too far away now thankfully, just two working days and then sweet freedom....


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

So, change is a good thing right?

It's been an age since I last wrote, and rather than gloss over the glaringly obvious I thought I'd give a little insight into why.

The last two months have been eventful, the last month or so especially.  Towards the end of April I, randomly and very unexpectedly, met someone.  I nice chap, let's call him T (round of applause if you can guess his name, you do have a clue there).  Now, previous to bumping into my friend, and therefore T, that evening I had been planning to return to Asia and teaching English to wee kiddies.  I'm not saying that is not still an option for me, and that I don't still miss my Seoul life and friends dearly, but it is on the back-burner for now (what do they say in American shows, "let's put a pin in it").

So, T came along and we had an epic first date a week or so after we met.  I say epic as it lasted 7 hours.  For someone, such as myself, who rarely dates I think that is a pretty substantial length of time to spend with someone you've just me.  What did we do?  We drank coffee, walked, had a beer/cider, ate pub grub, walked some more, had another hot drink, walked and realised the time.  I'm not going to go down the soppy route and say "it was love at first sight" and all that fairy tale jazz, but I will say that I don't often meet a boy that I am attracted to and want to spend that much time with.

What happened next?  We waited two days and had another date.  Then a few days later, we had another.  It's been going on for just over two months now.  We're still getting to know each other and, for me, this is pretty momentous stuff.  In fact, you could say it is the longest I have ever dated anyone, and you would be correct.  There have been flames and there have been mistakes, but this seems worth giving a little time to.  So, I decided that I will stick around Cambridge a while longer and see where the White Rabbit takes me as we wander down the rabbit hole.

The last few months have also seen some emotional times.  My grandad, who had been unwell for quite some time, suddenly took a turn for the worse.  So I took two trips to the Netherlands to visit my family.  The first time I went to say goodbye to my grandad face to face, the second it was to say goodbye to him with my family.  It was and is terribly sad, but he was ready to go and it was better for him to leave as he is now at peace.  I'll always love my grandad.

There was also a hen party...  Now I know that being British will, no matter how much you may resist, lead you to envisage a drunken affair with "L" plates, dodgy accessories, slimy naked men and all sorts of absurdities, and kudos to you if that is what you may yourself want to do to say goodbye to single life, but I am afraid I must disappoint you.  However, do not let that make you think that it wasn't a marvellous event!  It was quite possibly the best, most well planned and thought through, quirkiest and most vintage themed fantastic day possible!  I will most definitely have to take the time to post some photos for you to see, at which point I will tell you a few more details about it.  For now, I will tease you with a photograph of myself to give you a taste of the mood of the event (note the teacup...).

Other happenings over the last two months include, in no particular order and apologies if I am repeating myself: seeing Noah and the Whale live in London, visiting the Harry Potter studio tour (now I know I owe you photos of that day), hanging out with my darling cousin, doing a crazy 24 mile bike ride to Ely and back, going to the cinema about 3 times, finishing season 3 of Game of Thrones, meeting my dad in London for a tasty lunch, watching Eurovision, drinking with my little sister, a trip to Wales and spending a weekend camping, dancing, singing, eating and running around the countryside (whilst twirling around like Maria as we ran down a hill).  It has been eventful to say the least.  

Currently, I am packing up my room as I have to leave my beautiful riverside abode, sigh, and move to a new room/house.  Unfortunately my landlord wants to sell his house, how rude, and so I will be moving into a new place.  It was a slightly rushed house hunt and my options were not what they could have been.  Hopefully it will all work out okay in the end.  Luckily for me, my father and stepmother are visiting this weekend.  They have a big car...  It will, of course, be fantastic to see them in Cambridge again and I am looking forward to a nice weekend together doing nothing of much importance but having fun at the same time.

Right, that sees me stopping for now.  I have missed writing here, I think it is soothing for the soul to explore things by writing them down.  How are you all?  Can you forgive me for my long absence or will you shun me like a naughty child being given a time out?  I hope that it's the former, but if it is the latter then I hope to slowly win you over once more.

Bis bald my lovelies.


Friday, 17 May 2013

The weekend has FINALLY arrived

This week has been the longest week in ages.  It's probably because, for one reason or another, it's the first full week I've worked in a long time.  Either way, I am extremely grateful that it is Friday.  I am hopping over the Channel to visit family this weekend, all a tad last minute and I will explain at some point.  Rather glad to be seeing my family again, has been 5 months since I saw most of the cloggies.

Wishing you a pleasant weekend, whatever you may be up to.  Stay dry and warm, the weather has gone tits up lately (excuse my language but it's really annoying me).

Bis bald.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

If you like pretty trinkets raise your hand

Just a quick one to promote a give away that the lovely Nikki at The Little Nordic Cabin is running.  Up for grabs are some very cute, handmade hair grips.  So if you want something girly to slide into your luscious locks, and fancy meandering through her tales of life and all things Nordic, why not take a quick peek at her blog?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The classic story of girl meets boy...

On this rainy afternoon, you could almost be forgiven for thinking that it was autumn.  But then you take a second look and notice that everything is green and lush.  Is this some weird dimension where the seasons are reversed?  No, it is England.  It is mid May and today it is cold and rainy, like it has been most of the last week and looks set to be the rest of this week as well.  I know it is a cliché that we British always talk about the weather, but when it's this shite you really do!

Now, I guess you may be wondering about the title of this post?  It explains my long absence, to some extent, and pretty much gives an insight into the last few weeks.  Yes, I met a guy, as always happens at the most inconvenient times in life (for example when I was plotting my escape from this rain drenched country).  It's early days yet, but dating is a rarity in my life and it's all very exciting, even Bridget Jones-esque at times!

So the boy suddenly popping up, and generally a very busy social life intermingled with the usual bouts of sleeplessness, have meant that blogging has taken an unfortunate back seat the last few weeks.  This is something I hope to start remedying very soon as I miss you all, and I have SO many photos from Harry Potter to show you!

For now, I just want to apologise for falling off the grid and say that I hope you are experiencing real summer-like weather wherever you are.  Are you well?

Bis bald.


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

She lives!

Just wanted to pop a quick note on here to say that I am alive and I will be returning (maybe triumphantly) soon! Something has been occupying my time lately (nothing bad so worry not), but I miss you guys and hope to get back to regular posts soon.

One post that will surely be happening will be about my trip to the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford England (near London)!  It was WIZARD!

Hope you are all well and that spring is making it's presence felt wherever you are, I am loving the light mornings and evenings.

Bis bald.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Excuses excuses...

Okay, I know, it's been over a week now since I last posted for the A-Z challenge, I will finish it and I will catch up.  Whether this happens within the time frame it was supposed to is another thing though.  I have a list of all the topics I was thinking of using, just to prove that it was no spur of the moment decision to participate.


My reasons for being slack?  Having an actual regular social life for the first time in a long time (since returning from ROK) and exploring my options for the next step in this crazy thing called life.  I'm no sudden decision girl.  My decisions may seem obscure and out of the blue but they have rarely been made without extensive thought and analysis.  I say rarely, there are always exceptions to rules.  But to give you an example, it took me 2 years of wondering and thinking to decide to brave going to Korea...

Hope you are all well, super duper sunny here.  I think it may be safe to say that spring has finally arrived, long may it stay.  Have a great rest of your weekend and see you here soon for posts on Jeju Island, K Pop (or Kimchi), Lantern festivals (another one because they are pretty), Myeongdong, and many more (namely the rest of the alphabet).

Bis bald.


Monday, 15 April 2013

A-Z delay

Gosh, another weekend and another visit from one of my best friends!  I had company Friday until Sunday, so another few days of the A-Z to catch up on (soon as I can). 

We had sunshine here, yesterday was gorgeous and even the wind was mild.  It was such a nice change and good for the soul. 

I had an excellent weekend, I hope you did too.

Bis bald.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I is for...


The biggest foreigner district in Seoul, Itaewon is located right next to one of the biggest US army bases in Korea.  It is the best place to find foreign food, both restaurants and shops.   It has a huge expat community, not just English teachers but people from all over the globe.   I found it a little dodgy at night time, although you can find real cider at the Irish pub there...

Here is a glorious song about Itaewon:

H is for...


It had to be really.  Hongdae is the area I lived in for a year, and possibly THE biggest party district in Seoul.  I know, Hongdae + Abi/Me are not a natural sounding fit, but the area has a lot to offer other than drunkards.  I moved there because the hagwon (private school) I worked in was in an area called Sinchon, just one stop on the subway, 5/10 minutes by bus or a 15/20 minute walk away and our apartment building was in Hongdae.

Hongik university.
 At first I thought Hongdae was loud, dirty and busy.  I left loving it, but still thinking it was loud, dirty and busy.  It is a bonkers area to live in, Seoul is a city that NEVER sleeps, I mean never ever.  I would sometimes go for a run at 7am and I would pass people going home from the night before.  Living in that area was pretty interesting, and extremely convenient as it is super central (and not far from the river).  I'm not a big one for night life, but I still found things to love about the area.

The Hello Kitty Cafe.

Stall selling random cute things.
On a Saturday morning you will find a craft fair in the "playground", this hosts a collection of local artists selling their wares.  They are usually up to a pretty high standard too.  The area is named Hongdae because of the local arts university Hongik University. 

Free gig inside a clothes store.
The playground becomes a completely different place at night, then it is a meeting ground, a place to hang out and buy a dodgy street cocktail or to watch buskers.  There is also an older guy that sells makgeolli (Korean fermented rice wine, aquired taste but I found it delicious), he is literally called the Makgeolli man and is known to any regulars of the area (google him for a photo).

Local mart.
 It has a multitude of restaurants, cute cafes, bars and clubs.  A gazillion fashionable shops selling oversized jumpers and little skirts,  stalls selling funky mobile phone covers every hundred yards and a lot of street performers.  It is also down the road from the area of Hapjeong, this is also a nice area but I didn't get to explore it enough before leaving.

I'm going to pop a collection of photos taken in Hongdae down below.  There's one thing to be said for Hongdae, you'll always see something interesting...

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

G is for...

Gangnam style

I didn't want to do this to you all, as I am sure you have had enough of Psy and his antics, but I want to catch up with my A-Z and this is the easy option for G.

But, whilst on the topic of Gangnam, take a look here for a description of this affluent area south of the river in Seoul.

F is for...

I really struggled with this one, there aren't really places or things starting with this letter.  Apart from a restaurant, for example Fry Pan (best fried chicken in Seoul), or using my friend's idea of Face and discussing the crazy cosmetics industry in Korea I've been coming up clueless.  I might hit upon the latter in another post though.  A look at the index of my Rough Guide to Korea just proved it, there are no places beginning with F!  It is not a sound you hear in Hangul.  

Until about two seconds ago I was going to go with Fitness and discuss how outdoor gyms are really popular in Korea (and how old people do not just sit down and became immobile, they work out).  But then I spotted Fortress in the index and thought about a day trip I took with my friend to the fortress at Suwon.

So, today, F is for Fortress.

Located just an hour or so south of Central Seoul is the city of Suwon.  It's been a little swallowed up by the ever growing Seoul, but it is a city in it's own right rather than just a satellite city built to house workers for the capital (although some of these are quite nice too).  

Hwaseong fortress is a UNESCO-listed fortress at the centre of Suwon.  It was completed in 1796, built on the orders of King Jeongjo (an important ruler from the Joseon dynasty) to house the remains of his father, Prince Sado.  Sadly for poor Prince Sado, he never made it to the throne, instead meeting his doom by the hands of his father, King Yeongjo, at Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul (thank you to the Rough Guide, 2008).

I went there with my friend Jenny, she popped by to visit me on her way home from Australia (via Korea and Hong Kong) and we had a great 10 days together.  Unfortunately, I had to work during her visit, but she's a well seasoned traveller and soon had both her solo days and our together days and evenings planned.   We popped down to Suwon one weekend and had a walk down to the fortress, we didn't get to see much of the rest of the city as we had a deadline to meet a friend of mine at the Art Park in Anyang, but what we saw was nice.  It was one of those days where nothing quite goes to plan, as is often the case with us, but it was a good day none the less (and hot because it was August).

We arrived at the train station and followed signs and the map in my Lonely Planet through the town and to the fortress.  

When we knew for certain that we were heading in the right direction.
It's free to enter and the thing to do is walk the wall.  As we followed it round we came to a gift shop, restaurant and place to buy tickets for the little dragon trolley that you can ride up and down the hillier part of the wall.  Korea has it's moments that leave me perplexed and we had one of them that day.  There was a possibility that it was going to rain, so they had decided to stop running the dragon trolley.  This is fine, and I agree that it was a typical humid summer day, but later we saw the dragon trolley packed with people enjoying the ride!  

Ah well, it was still fun to follow the wall.  At one point it disappears and you walk through the town trying to find the next segment, in fact the centre of the fortress is no longer really there and instead it now surrounds regular concrete buildings.  Every now and then you come across something resembling the original centre, the odd pagoda or green patch of grass, but the city has definitely grown up around this old relic.

The whole wall stretches for 5.7km so it's a walk-able distance and takes a little while if you want to stop and look at things.  It winds around quite a bit.  

There's a big Buddha statue and a small former palace you can see as well. 

When you get to the higher ground there is a big bell that you can pay to "gong", you pay tuppence to do so, I think it was 1,000 won for 3 goes, but it's quite fun.  Apparently, it's one gong for your parents, one for a healthy, harmonious family, and one for whatever you desire (Rough Guide).  All in all, it was a great day trip.

Hazy day in the city.

Something childishly thrilling about ringing a big bell.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Normal A-Z service will resume shortly.

Just wanted to pop on and say hello!  Hope it is as sunny for you as it is for me today.  So excited by this gorgeous, and long awaited, spring-like weather!  So excited that I completely ran out of time to write my F post yesterday, but worry not I have finally thought of my topic.  It will be a little later yet though, my friend is visiting me and I have to hurry up and get ready to go meet her.  Super exciting to have a visitor, I even baked a cake!

Yesterday I got distracted by sunshine, impromptu shopping (naughty naughty) and playing Cranium at a pub with my housemate and her friends (I was the token Brit and knew maybe 2 answers to the all the British related factual questions, patriotic fail).

Have a super day and bis bald.


Friday, 5 April 2013

E is for...


Today I am a little at a loss of what to write about, so I am cheating and using my housemate's idea of a post about food.  So, as it has been a long time now and I don't have anyone to help me name everything, here is a collection of photos of just some of the food I ate in Korea.  I quickly picked up the habit of taking photos of almost every meal I ate out, firstly because it was all new, interesting and delicious, secondly because that is what Koreans seem to do!  It is one of the things you quickly notice, they use the cameras on their smart phones and take photos of food, or just of themselves.  Seriously, I am not kidding.  Take a look at this blog, there's a post all about the self-photo phenomenon (I just wanted to use that word).

For now, here are some (partly labelled) photos of Korean food...

21cm ice creams in Myeongdong


Korean style BBQ, delicious.

I love Korean side dishes, you order one thing and get several side dishes free of charge.

And if you go to the right place, you can get this many side dishes!

Some kind of jjigae (soup), I think it's bean curd jjigae and super tasty.

They eat a lot of steamed sweet potatoes, so simple yet delicious.

Dried squid?

Rice porridge, very wholesome and warming.

Terrible photo, but these red bean stuffed fish HAD to be included.

Spicy pork served with rice and leaves to eat them with (you put the meat and rice in the leaves).

Ginseng chicken soup, that whole chicken (stuffed with rice) was all for me.  Classic summer dish, believe it or not, as it gives you lots of energy.

Rice noodle fried dumplings.

Think this was called jimdak, and those scissors you see in the top left corner are used to cut up the noodles.

More BBQ, complete with egg ring omelette.

A kimbap, Korean version of sushi (California roll style) preparation station.

This was from a soup, beef back bone or something similar.  It was super tasty but fiddly as you had to take the meat off of the bone (with chopsticks).

Instant noodles, purchased at a convenience store by the river.

They LOVE waffles!

Potatoe pajeon, pancake.

This was delicious!  Cannot remember the name, but it contained chicken and potatoes.  Mmmmmm.

More side dishes.

Side dishes purchased at the local street stall.

Korean BBQ.

Lady making mung bean pancakes.
Amazing dinner, before it was cooked.  It was delicious and looked so pretty.

The end piece of some kimbap.  In there you can see Radish (the bright yellow), spam (the pink), crab stick, egg omelette thingy, odang (fish cake light brown thing) and I think carrot?

Special apron for eating Dak Galbi.

Potatoes on a stick, covered in cheese powder.  Tasty and another example of street food, especially what can be found in the Myeongdong shopping district.

Corn dogs covered in chips.fries and deep fried.  Looked amazing, tasted okay.

Peanut butter roasted squid, to die for.