Archive for December, 2009

Why does the snow turn London to slush?

December 22, 2009

I have a question for the British public – why does London come to a standstill every time it snows? It’s crazy, at the first sign of a snowflake, traffic grounds to a halt and businesses cease to function.

Yesterday it snowed a little in the afternoon. I’m not talking a snow storm; it was more like slushy streets and snow-scattered footpaths. Nonetheless, I spent an hour waiting for my bus. It didn’t arrive. I then went to the train station but my train was cancelled. I finally managed to catch one awhile later, only to get out at the other end and have to wait nearly an hour (in the freezing cold) for another bus.

As a result, my normally 40 minute trip home from work took more than four hours. When I arrived I was shivering from head-to-toe and my legs had turned blue. Flights were cancelled around London, there were major traffic jams and most trains and buses didn’t arrive at their destinations.

 

How come in a country that should be accustomed to snow fall, does chaos wreck havoc whenever the powdery stuff lands? It doesn’t happen in Canada unless it’s three metres deeps, not three inches!

Nonetheless, I managed to get a colleague to snap this photo of me in the snow. (Mind you, I look happy because I was oblivious to the trouble I would have getting home!)

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The festive season is upon us!

December 21, 2009

I’m really starting to look forward to the festive season. I have so much planned I pretty much don’t have a spare day in the one and a half weeks I have off work!

What makes it even more exciting is that the festive season will be in London, which means more things to do and see than the small city that I come from, back in Australia.

Some of our plans involve going to Winter Wonderland – a festival in Hyde Park full of German markets, rides, Christmas lights and ice-skating – as well as some going to a huge IMAX Theatre to see the new Avatar movie. Also want to try and go to a pantomime show as well during my time off…something that is particularly English!

 

The weather is really starting to have a festive feel about it – watching the snow fall and being careful not to slip on the white frost everywhere. My traditional live Christmas tree doesn’t look out of place for once, now that it’s decorated in an English terrace house!

I’ve got all my Christmas shopping out the way and spent some of the weekend making Christmas decorations to put up and on the table for when my family comes around for a Christmas meal. All the presents are wrapped and sitting under the tree… my biggest worry is that the tree won’t make it to Christmas because the heating is drying it out!

What are you doing for Christmas?

White Christmas in London?

December 17, 2009

I got a little bit excited yesterday. I was stuck at home in bed with a cold, with the lap top resting on my lap when I read someone’s Facebook status that it was snowing outside. I jumped out of bed and ran to the window and witnessed the snowflakes falling from the sky.

There is something magical about watching snow fall, I must admit. Especially in December, when snow fall is quite rare (apparently) for London. It’s a four in one chance that it will snow on Christmas day and because we’ll be outside of London at our friends’ house, I’m hoping that it’ll be an even greater chance.

I must say that if this is the case then I’ll just have to take back what I said in my previous blog about preferring the sunshine at Christmas. A white Christmas would be the ultimate, especially in London with all the Christmas decorations and jolliness. It must be the only time of the year that Londoners manage to smile and greet their neighbours.

And the best news of all is that eight inches of snow is predicted for tomorrow – meaning that we might be snowed in and won’t have to go to work! Now that’s a nice early Christmas present for me! If it does snow again, I’ll promise to take photos and put them up on here. Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas in the sun? That’s (apparently) just not Christmas!

December 11, 2009

Ah, Christmas time. I do love the festive season. I enjoy shopping, spending time with my family, cooking, hosting parties and giving gifts – so what’s not to love? (Actually, perhaps Christmas carols…we’ve got them on repeat in the office and they’re doing my head in!)

This year will be very different from last year’s Christmas, as I’ll be spending it on the opposite side of the world in cold and gloomy England. Last year I spent Christmas day on the beach.

This is something that my fellow colleagues can’t get their heads around. They think it’s hilarious that us Australians sing Christmas carols about a ‘winter wonderland’ and spray fake snow onto our Christmas trees. One work mate said she couldn’t ever imagine spending a Christmas in the sunshine – she said it wouldn’t feel like Christmas to her!

I’ve had all types of Christmas days in the past. I’ve spent two in the UK, when the weather was cold and grey, many in Perth, Western Australia, where the temperature often reaches 40 degrees, and one in the French Alps where it snowed all day. I have to admit that the Christmases I enjoy the most are the ones where I can lay by the pool or on the beach with a cocktail in my hand.

It may not be traditional to some, but for me it’s very relaxing – and I feel that’s what Christmas is all about. I’ll really miss the sunshine this year. How do you like to spend your Christmas?

Life is so short… make the most of it!

December 9, 2009

A good friend of mine got some terrible news on the weekend – her close friend had died in a car accident. She was only 24 and it happened so suddenly it was a shock to all of us.

I’ve been thinking about the tragedy over the past few days as her love ones spend time organising the funeral. Life is so short. It’s amazing how much time we all worry about the small things, stressing out that we missed the bus or losing sleep over a confrontation with a work colleague.

At the end of the day, do these small things really matter? We might not be here tomorrow, yet we take so many things in our lives for granted – such as the people around us who love us.

Don’t want to be sound too preachy, but isn’t it strange that the happiest people seem to be those whose position we wouldn’t want to be in? When I was in Africa years ago, there were many people in a worse off economic position than me, selling goods on the side of the road. This wouldn’t be my ideal lifestyle, yet I always saw them smiling!

Just goes to show that you don’t need material things to keep you happy – look at people like Tiger Woods and Victoria Beckham – do you think they’re happy?

Christmas is a time… for love?

December 8, 2009

Last night my boyfriend asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I said I’d like jewellery. He replied with, “But you got jewellery last year,” to which I said, “One can never have too many jewels.”

He then told me that he had a better idea for a Christmas present for me…wait for it… a Japanese kitchen knife. Yes, that’s right. He said this knife was so special that it was made from a Samurai sword and coated in a special type of metal so that it would not wear. Each year, if I had this special knife, I could send it off to the factory where it would be sharpened on a diamond blade.

Not the exact form of diamonds I was hoping to receive during the Christmas season. Fortunately though, he told me that it costs £200 – too much for a Chrissie present. Phew.

Prawn Fettuccine

December 7, 2009

Ingredients:

2 tbs olive oil

400g prawns

400g mushrooms

red onion

baby spinach leaves

avocado

2 tbs cumin

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tbs wholegrain mustard

250ml pouring cream

250g fettuccine 

parsley

Method:

Fry the prawns in the olive oil and sprinkle cumin and nutmeg over them while frying. Cook for approx 3-5 minutes.

Put aside. Cooked chopped mushrooms and onion in a pot until soft.

Add the cream and mustard and bring to the boil. Add the prawns and the juice from the prawns and turn the heat to low. Leave for 2 minutes and then turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the fettuccine until it is al dente.

Stir through the baby spinach, chopped avocado, parsley and add fettuccine. Serve.

Does sport always have to be taken seriously?

December 4, 2009

I’ve been playing social netball for about 10 weeks now and next week it is the finals. Last night our team drew in our match, a game in which we nearly won. Even though it’s supposedly ‘social’ netball (with both men and women playing) each week, I am shocked by how seriously people take the activity.

Take last night, for example. The opposing team’s captain very nearly had a hissy fit and stormed off the court because he thought that we weren’t getting called up enough for obstruction. He kept yelling ‘come on!!’ and stamping his feet, not unlike the actions of a three-year-old.

 

At one point in the match, a fellow team member brushed passed his defender and caught her arm in the process. She proceeded to screech, “My wrist is broken!” to which we all turned around to see what the fuss was about. Someone from her team approached her and asked if she wanted to go off the court. “Hmph,” was her reply, before running off – and may I add – taking the ball from us in this devious distraction technique.

Halfway through the game the umpire gave us a talking to about our behaviour and told us to shut up and stop whinging. I had to agree with her. I did not sign up for social netball to deal with bad sportsmanship and tantrums. I thought that’s what soccer was about, not netball.

Nonetheless, we’ve finished somewhere in the middle of the ladder and I believe we may be playing the same team next week in the finals. Perhaps the team – ‘Ben’s pawn collection’ – can get back some of the silliness they had in them when they named their team, and loosen up a little before then.

British meat

December 3, 2009

I really don’t want to start my blog off with a rant, but I have a feeling it cannot be avoided. I often get slagged off at work for so-called ‘British bashing’. Don’t get me wrong, I love living here, but I also love to whinge (something I feel I have picked up from the poms).

And whinge I will because last night I bought steak from Sainsburys. The packet informed me that the expiry date for the meat was the 7th of December, in five day’s time. I took it home to make Irish stew, only to discover when I opened the container that the meat was brown. What is with that? Surely, if it still had nearly a week left before its used by date, why was it already going off?

This never happened to me before in Australia, whereas it is happening almost weekly over here. Can someone explain to me why Australian meat is so much fresher? I thought England had cows too, right?

Hello world!

December 2, 2009

Hello!

My name’s Carmen and I’m an Aussie journalist currently living in London. I moved to this cold and dreary nation in February 2009 with my partner, Dave. The aim of the move was to further our careers but so far it hasn’t panned out quite as we planned. Nonetheless we’re having a great time. London is a great place to live when you’re in your 20s. Perhaps not when you’re older or younger, but for someone in their second decade it is a fun place.

Hope you enjoy my blog, even if it is a little mundane at times 🙂