Photo Diary: Walk through Brick Lane

I had my mum and sister come and visit the other weekend, and knowing how much my sister loves hipster vintage stuff, and my mum loves great street food, I thought we could discover Brick Lane together.

Brick Lane is a national institution in London. The Shoreditch end is caked in amazing graffiti art, market stalls, tonnes of incredible smelling food and some real life hipsters to top it all off.







As you can probably tell, this is also the weekend I discovered the macro setting on my camera. I’m getting used to all the extra buttons and options on my Olympus now, so expect better quality images as we go on. :)



Getting high in London

The thing with London is, there’s just so much of it. It takes an hour to get just halfway across it, there’s always new must-see places being added to your to-do list, and finding time to experience is tough- come the weekend or evening you’re already pooped from battling with three hundred other people for your place on a stinky tube.

Trying to catch a breather can seem like a near-impossible task, unless you’re a fan of locking yourself in your house for the whole day. Which, incidentally, I’m not/no one is. But I don’t need to worry that the constant honking of car horns, the never-ending bustle of the rush hour tube or the blaring of Evening Standard distributors is going to drive me a little bit mental. Because I’ve discovered a secret.

Getting high in London is not only super easy, it’s also seriously effective. All you need is a lift, a big ol’ building and preferably a fancy cocktail bar waiting for you at the top.

The Shard

I’m lucky enough to work in The Shard- London’s most famous pointy building- and the views are incredible. My office is only Level Three, so there’s no view to speak of there, but I do get to nip upstairs every few months for pay-day drinks. My number one recommendation for visiting The Shard is to skip The View. Though I’ve heard great things, it’s much more time/booze-effective to haul yourself up to floor 32 for a cocktail at Oblix or Aqua Shard.




 The BT Tower

I was lucky enough to be invited to head up the BT Tower for a fancy-schmancy professional networking event. I was there to schmooze with big bosses, and managed to make a fool of myself by stalling mid-pitch, in front of two CEOs, to shriek “Oh my God, we’re moving” when I realised they’d switched on the 360-floor rotation. The sensation of being slowly spun around in the sky took a little getting used to, but the views it afforded was well worth the vague feeling I’d just been on the world’s slowest rollercoaster. You also get a nifty certificate so you can add something to your CV. Naturally, the fact that I was supposed to be working didn’t stop me from taking a selfie.

(Unfortunately, the Tower isn’t open to the public , so you’ll have to just gatecrash the next fancypants event they hold there.)




Heron Tower

I am in love with Heron Tower. It’s not the most funky skyscraper in London- it doesn’t have The Shard’s edginess or the BT Tower’s revolving floor- but I have totally fallen for this badboy. Namely because it is home to the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted, and some of the most incredible views you can find of London’s skyline. I’m going to do a full review of the restaurant gets me salivating. I’ve not been to Sushi Samba, which is on the floor below, because I haven’t been able to convince anyone to pay for me (…yet). The lift is so fast, and because you have a full view of London as you soar up, some people I’ve been with felt kinda funny going up and down, but I loved it.





There are a million other places I want to get a good old view from- I’m determined to get inside the Gherkin, I’m going to go for coffee at Centrepoint, and one day I’ll fork out for a whirl on the London Eye. Looking across the skyline is a gorgeous way to get a real idea of the city, and to take a much needed breather from all the business of the tiny, tiny people down below.


When London breaks

You know how when it snows, everyone gets ready to make those “Southern pansy” jokes? The ones about how oop North, we rally through full force gales, shimmy over snow drifts and pick our way through the perilous icy peaks to get to the mines, but when a single snowflake lands outside Buckingham Palace, every Londoner goes into a full-scale meltdown as though they’d never seen the sky deposit such an unearthly matter on their beloved city before, and as a result they spend all day blankly refusing to go to work?

Yeah. I used to make those.

I lived on the edge of the Pennines for a year, where, in winter, it was safer to sit on your bum and slide one mile down the ice-covered road into oncoming traffic than to risk breaking your back by walking down said hill- and I still never missed my bus. I used to slide to college, voluntarily or otherwise, every day with only a few complaints and a twisted ankle. I felt my perils were just a simple part of winter, and coping with it was a simple job of getting on with your life despite external forces.

I used to look at Londoners, whimpering over the weather forecast, and think that they were pathetic. That was then. That was before I experienced The TFL Tube Strike.

I’m not sure if you noticed (…) but London just had a public transport freak out. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the situation, so do your fact-finding elsewhere, but I do know that for two days, it messed with my head.

The night before the strike, I’d been pretty smug. Meh, I thought, ignoring all warnings, this will just be another thing that Londoners meltdown about. Oop Norf, we rally through full force gales to get t’werk…(cont.). That was before what should have been an hour and a half round trip took me SIX AND A HALF HOURS.

I saw five people crying. I saw three arguments. I saw queues of one hundred people trying to bustle onto a single decker bus. I was in Waterloo East when it had to be evacuated and I was in gridlocked traffic for so long that I gave up and decided to walk the remaining stretch in the windy drizzle.  I was on the only central-bound train from Clapham that thoughtful strangers decided to fart on. And you know the worst bit? I didn’t even have it that bad.

I’ve got a new found respect for Londoners. I used to think that the transport-drama headlines were hyperbolic, and simply proof that people were softer down south. But having experienced just a taste of what it’s like to be in a crowd of one thousand lost and late commuters, I sort of get it now. Because back home, when there’s a transport crisis, we’re not battling with crowds of hundreds of people who are getting in your way, or knocking you over to get on the bus. And there’s certainly no one farting into your handbag.


Blog Alpha: Why do I keep going?

After a particularly hairy week on the Alpha course, which I blogged here, I decided to go back. I glossed over my reasons in that particular blog post- partially because it was getting excessively long, but also because I had an episode of Breaking Bad that needed urgent attention.

So why did I go back? Why would I voluntarily put myself through another session of feeling vaguely offended and wound up? This is evidently not a place for an achingly liberal athiest. The free food was surely not worth the incandescent rage that followed, so I must have had another reason.


To be honest, I was intrigued to see how the next session would recoup. I was almost challenging Alpha to come back fighting: either give me a definitive reason to quit, or to make it up to me. I’d become invested in the course, and (cheese alert) I was enjoying learning.

You see, I went to a Catholic primary school, where the leading memory of religion was having an emotional breakdown in front of a priest, aged eleven, when I couldn’t think of anything suitable to say for my first confession. I also went to a Catholic secondary school, where the leading memory of religion was the fact that my RE teacher told us she couldn’t spell “crucifixion”. Other than those two stand out moments, I’m pretty ill-educated when it comes to what Christians believe.

Alpha had started to prick my interest in having faith. Though my personal beliefs are unchanged, I now feel like I actually get it. The logic, the personal experiences, the trust in there being more to life than squabbling amongst ourselves and acapella Beyonce megamixes. The mechanics of faith make sense now. I’m still athiest, or whatever, but something clicked.

Previous to this course, whenever people told me they had a faith I treated it with as much understanding as if they’d told me they had a degree in neuro-astrology. With a respect for their experiences, but no knowledge of a) what was involved, b) how you got started in something like that  or c) how that would help you in daily life.

I’m still no expert, and I’m still far too silly to get involved in argumentative debates about God. But I’m still mystified by certain bits of religious zealousness- watch this space for my speaking in tongues special (yes really)- and I’m still baffled by people who are dead certain of one thing or another. More because I can’t decide between poached or fried eggs, nevermind God or no God.