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How to survive London mark 2…

The sky stretches grey in the sea of umbrella’s, the clock ticks and tocks…time to go go go go.

London can be a real strange old place and when you first move here…or in my case move back you can find yourself feeling overwhelmed and often lonely. Its strange in a sea of people it can be so hard to make a connection.

Its OK, don’t despair because London can be one of the best cities to live in the world. However you have to be pro-active.

How you ask?

  1. You need to create a connection to the city to make friends (they won’t just come to you) there are a lot of way to do this, I have personally being using a website/APP called meetup.
  2. Peace in the city-Find parks and green space, you’ll be amazed at the great walking spots in London-London even has a walk that navigates the whole city, obviously don’t attempt this in one go.
  3. Get the right place to live-I’m not going to sugar coat it finding in a place in London sucks!!! But don’t despair get the right place. I personally find it essential in mark 2 London to be outside of central London for the tranquillity but of course I need a quick link into central London.
  4. Don’t try to save for the first year-one of the biggest mistakes I made when first living in London was to try to save. There is only one way forward with London is to experience experience experience. This comes with a prize tag.

Remember its never too late to truly enjoy London. You need to be pro-active!

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A not too lazy sunday in NYC

The first emergence of summer appears in the the big apple and its time for a very unlazy Sunday.

Recovering slightly from a heavy night on Saturday you make your way to Syvlia’s in Harlem for some match needed Southern carbs, the fried chicken is the one for me. Whilst there you sip on some energising Sweet Tea (and I mean sweet) and take in the electric live gospel music.

When you finally tear yourself away from the tunes you head down to Central Park. Exploring the first blooms of summer you work your way through the park. You stumble on one of the many baseball games in motion and absorb the competitive excitement.

When you finally emerge back into the concrete jungle its time to embrace the wild, of course its time to hit China or Korea town depending on your preference. Go round the many little shops for some souvenirs and eat dumplings or drink bubble tea. Then there is only one course of action a little power nap before exploring the NYC night life.

Waking up refreshed you head over to emerge yourself in the electricity of Times Square at night. Exploring the lights and sounds absorbing the atmosphere. Of course a trip to times square isn’t complete with a much needed visit to Hershey Chocolate shop. Then once you are chocolate filled, its time to head to West village for one of the many great Jazz bars such as Arthurs Tavern.

Then its time to stumble home for some much needed sleep.

Barcelona…a wee guide

In my experience cities can often have two major effects; they can drain or energise you. Barcelona makes you feel like the Duracell bunny.

Stroll out after a siesta around 9ish (yes life starts late in Barcelona) hit up Carrer de Blai for some tapa, strike up a conversation with locals and see where the night takes you. I know it sounds hard, especially if you are on your own but its the best way to experience Barcelona. If you want to do a little cheat go on to the couchsurfing app and there are loads of lovely locals wanting to grab a drink.

So I personally would just suggest wondering around and seeing where it leads. However I know my readers like little tips, so here are my favourite spots:

  • Bunkers Del Carmel-for a great view of the city head here for sunrise. There’s nothing quite like a Barcelona City sunrise (sunset tends to be more social and crowded).
  • Sagdrada Familia– I don’t usually recommend mass tourist paid spots, but Sagdrada Familia is the exception to the rule. It is a truly marvellous architectural delight, and has become my number one Cathedral.
  • Parc de Monjuic-As readers know I love nature and this is the closest you really get in Barcelona. With the winding pathways its another chance for a great view of the city.

If it doubt just get to Barcelona… You won’t regret the decision.

 

 

Barcelona-first impressions take two

Hola Chicos its Barcelona time.

I have been in Barcelona now for three days, I will write a little guide on what to do whilst here shortly but wanted to give some initial thoughts.

Personally Barcelona is one of my favourite European cities. I have been finding it hard however to quantify why! On paper Barcelona in itself doesn’t have anything particularly unique, don’t get me wrong there are plenty of amazing sights but nothing that truly stands out. The people again are amazing but there are a couple of countries that I prefer. So I have come to the conclusion its the combination of the ethos, the cool architecture, the glorious food and chilled people.

So how best to experience Barcelona?

Daytime: Go to a high point like Parc de Montjuic find something in the distance that looks interesting and head in that direction. Barcelona is great city to get lost in and as you never know what’s round the corner.

Night time: Its all about food and fiesta. Two tips here don’t go to dinner before 9pm as places you would want to go e.g places local go to will be empty and make sure to strike up a conversation with locals to find all the best spots.

The work trap…

I found myself this week almost falling into bad habits that I had hoped I shaked.

It was a cold and miserable week in England, I found myself stranded in a hotel for the week and not in the best of moods. At this low point I was starting to take my work home with me! Not in the physical sense which I have been very disciplined over but mentally .

The reason I mention this is because as most things if you want certain things in life you have to work for them. In my case I wanted that work life balance which is so important to my wellbeing. This week confirmed the danger of falling into old harmful patterns, which was the whole point taking a year off to rediscover my passion for life.

In this case it was about focusing my energies.

  • Firstly, it was about clearing my mind which was one of the first lessons I learnt travelling.
  • Secondly, it was about focusing my attention. In this case it was about reconnecting with travel friends and concentrating on filling my life with something outside of work.

So you ask what was the point of this story? Well the point is even when have a life changing event that helps redefine your life things don’t automatically change. Its about putting in hard work to make the lessons stick.

 

Finding a houseshare in London…

Finding a place to live in London can be tricky. When you have such a shortage of accommodation the goods ones go fast, and even if you find a good one it doesn’t mean the people are nice/normal.

I have been experiencing the tricky obstacles of navigating this maze. I haven’t found anything yet that was available when I want it, yet every house I have seen so far has been good quality.

What to consider?

  • Central vs. Outer London– assuming your budget is the same. Central London offers excitement but is also likely to be in a smaller flat vs. Outer London offering an oasis from the chaos and some large ‘house’ house shares. Remember London has such great transport links that even being in outer London doesn’t mean its hard to get to your favourite hangout spots.
  • Look for key words– words like home, friends and easy going. Having the right housemate makes such a massive difference. People who treat the accommodation as a home instead of a crash pad will pay in the long run.
  • Live-in landlords– On the onehand they will look after their home but ulimately they are the boss. It can often feel like being a second class citizen in these types of shares.
  • The viewing– Obviously ask questions about the bills etc but the most important ones is to find out about the people. Find out about routines e.g. work hours, hobbies (if you like quiet and they play the drums its not for you) and about house rules as these can end up being strange…..

Most of all, if possible, give your self time, in London you have to kiss alot of frogs before finding the right one.

Back to reality one week on…

I have been back in the UK now three weeks; in that time I got three job offers and accepted one, got over serious jet leg, reconnected with friends and lost my tan…. This last week I had my first week back in London being a working man.

So how was it and has anything changed because of my year adventure?

Lets start with what’s the same:

I went for a reasonable paid corporate job, has the potential to be very stressful, largely working with the same type of people and Londoner’s still don’t smile.

So what has changed:

Worklife: my perspective is firmly routed in that my work life if very different to my personal life. How has this worked in my first week:

Hours worked on my first week: worked my exact hours and took a lunch break to connect on a social level with colleague vs. two years ago first in/last out and no lunch break.
Home time: Didn’t bring my laptop/phone home with me vs. two years ago had my work phone on 24/7.

The point? work will always expand or contract with you. Consider what your own limits are and work to keep to them.

Homelife: I want a homelife that is about sociability but also about calm. For me this has a few elements finding a home that is shared with people who want to become friends, being out of the chaos of London by being in a quiet area but with transport to be in the thick of it, being within walking distance of work to reduce the stress of commutes. So in the first week I have been searching for a houseshare to meet these needs.

The point? It can take a lot of trial and error to get the right homelife. I have got it wrong a number of times. Don’t feel stuck if its not working for you make a change.

Social life: For this week its been about re-establishing relationships, but also about starting to take advantage of London in the form of trying to new things.

The point? re-establish your relationships and take advantages of everything your area has to offer. I know its winter but your getting no younger.

So how was my first week back? It was good I feel like I am heading in the right direction to keep this content feeling. I realise that I need to work hard to keep things on the right side but I feel confident I can do it….i’ll keep you updated.

What’s your next adventure?

This is part 2 of the places around the world I truly love. Check out part 1 here

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand: One of the first places I truly fell in love with. Its remote, has the natural beauty that makes New Zealand such a special country and is truly peaceful.

Cathedral cove.JPG

Copenhagen, Denmark: if you ever wondered what a place full of beautiful people is like head here. Copenhagen is a perfect weekend gateway-its cool, a little funky and has some great food markets.

Copenhangen.JPG

Great Oceon Road, Australia-Victoria: this was towards the end of my journey and I started to feel a little travel fatigue until I came here. Some of the best natural oceanic formations I have seen.

Great Oceon Road.JPG

Budapest, Hungary: Europe has some truly amazing architecture. In my opinion the best in the world. To find the best of the best head to Budapest. Take in the amazing sights in the morning, head to the bathes in the afternoon and finish with a river cruise at night-perfect.

Hungary Parliament.JPG

Interlaken, Switzerland: If I am forced to choose my favourite place in the world then Interlaken has my heart. What can I say but WOW. Everything is just beautiful from the buildings, the hiking, the world class views and the friendly locals.

Interlaken.JPG

Where will your next adventure be?

 

 

Stuff I think I know

Like to find out about random things…so do I

My new blog explores the things/assumptions I believe. Setting myself a challenge in 365 days to proof 49 of my assumptions.

So check out my new blog Stuff I think I know‘. I have 15 assumptions I am working on so far, so please write in widely believed assumptions and if I too believe them I will attempt to proof them.

Remember to follow us to get all the latest content as its published.

 

Next steps…restarting my life

So to recap…quit my job, sold my stuff and travelled around the world (30 amazing countries)! So the question I am asked alot was it worth it? Without a doubt. If anyone is on the fence just do it. You discover about new cultures, see amazing things and do things you wouldn’t normally do. However more importantly you rediscover so much about yourself once your bubble is burst.

What’s Next?

So when I first made the decision over a year ago to quit my life I had these grand life plans of what I could do and at the time I thought I would choose one of these after my adventure around the world. After travelling I would like to think I’ve discovered a lot about myself. I realised it isn’t massive changes that were needed, this stems from being a restless person. I always rebelled against this personality trait and therefore felt a need for big changes. Having accepted this simple fact, I feel so much more content and actually have come to two realisations; first it only takes small changes to make a life work and second actually being content should be the main aim.

New principles

  1. Work: It can be easy in our western culture to put so much pressure on ourselves with work in two main ways. A focus on money/promotions or finding that perfect job that makes us super happy. Chill, its just a job. A job should be funding your life not being your life. Its hard! I almost fell back into the trap straightaway coming back. Go to work with the aim of funding your life.
  2. Comparison: It’s so easy to compare our life’s with other people, especially in the age of social media where people rub it in our faces. This could be the fact that someone has a family, earns more money, is more active or owns a house etc. Quite frankly just do what makes you content after all its your life.
  3. We are human: It can be so hard to forget we aren’t machines. So be kinder to yourself and let things go. Its OK to forget/ fail its the way you carry on that matters. Let it go and carry on.
  4. People: Life is so much more interesting with people in your life. They provide different perspective, thoughts and help enrich you. Make sure to fill your life with activities that encourage people and where possible friendships.
  5. Live now: This was my big mistake. I was always obsessed with these grand plans from my career, relationships and to buying a home. I was so focused on the future I forgot to live for me. Don’t live your life in the future instead live now.
  6. Balance: We need different things at different times. Recognising that can be difficult. Its OK not to be active all the time, sometimes you need to chill. You don’t need to be productive all the time. Chill and when your bored get active. Find the balance for you, not what works for others.

Most of all be kind to yourself…hope this helps some of my readers.

As always feel free to write in with comments or questions.