Meeting People in London Part 1 : The Quest

Meeting People in London Part 1

The Quest

After a month or so in the island, this past week end has been my first week end as a Londoner (taking aside the boyfriend visit week end, the visiting the parents back in France week end and the oh-so-enjoyable, week end at the library for work).

Dora_exploradora1I have to reckon I feel quite comfortable minding my own business, wandering around with my backpack. A bit like Dora the explorer. Wait, she does have a monkey friend. What a show off.

I therefore figured I would have to grow a social network should I want to share these moments with other people with my own, my iPhone, and eventually my 60 Instagram followers.

I studied the options:

  • Workmates: I work from home, meh. But it looks like this is about to evolve – yay – so I do keep this one aside
  • Flatmates: I don’t happen to be living on my own, which is a good way not to turn into a complete hermit. I’m a lucky girl as they are absolutely lovely people and we did have a couple of drinks but they all have their own lives and I don’t quite want to be bugging them other day for a movie, drink, or else.
  • Friends of friends: London is such a big city, anyone moving surely “knows someone who knows someone”. In my case, these Someones are either mates pregnant sister or boyfriend ex’s bff or former HR from my current company.
  • Local pub: Would have surely worked if I was a bloke into sports or something. But since I’m a girl and find flavoured ciders more interesting than football games, I might just be mistaken for a hooker. So no thanks.
  • Sport club: Aside of the fact that I would actually need a membership card and to physically step in one, I feel like it’s a weird approach, leading unlikely to “hey there, look at how work out, would you fancy take these biceps to… the Steve Mc Curry exhibition?”

 

Facing all of the above disappointments, I did what I do whenever I’m lost, looking for direction and comfort, needing answers to my questions… I googled it.

I have been very nicely surprised to get a clue from the first results of the search, avoiding me the hassle to flick through filthy, graphic sites and pictures.

Websites openly promoted the quest for new friends and social networking, according to one’s areas of interests. Basically somehow dating sites, but for pals.

I subscribed to the first two of them www.citysocializer.com and www.meetup.com

Both of them share pretty much the same system: you register, create your profile and sign off for events you wish to attend, together with – supposedly – like minded people.

I am currently only at the phase where, after registering I am stalking flicking through the events.

Ah – the registration…

Although the sites are in principled designed “to make friends”, I was particularly keen on making the point that I’m not after any other thing than that.

I have boyfriend and contrary to what Cosmopolitan or Elle might be advising, I don’t have any plan to cheat on him.

I gave a good thought and decided to ban the below words and phrases from my descriptions because they sound too much as “I wouldn’t mind a shag, ta”:

  • Fun
  • New experiences
  • French girl (oh, come on, it’s not auto racism, we do have a reputation!)
  • Party hard
  • Feel lonely
  • Share special moments
  • Discover new things
  • Seek company
  • Xxx

For now, I did join a few groups but didn’t dare joining any event soon…

…To be continued!

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This week on earth #1

This week on earth #1 

 

All over the world – May the 4th

Aka “Star Wars Day”, rightly happening on May the 4th for obvious tone reasons “May the Force…”

It apparently takes its origin in an advert of the conservative party towards Margareth Thatcher “May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations.”

It officially became a proper celebration in 2012.

If, like me, you are a mild geek who can’t go hardcore in their Star Wars passion because you are pretty much the only one in your group of friend, then you’re quite unlikely going to enjoy this day at a comic con or similar type of fun and fulfilling event.

Social medias (and twitter in particular) however prove to be a good source of entertainment for this occasion:

 

Spain – Desigual campaign Fail

As you would have figured from a previous post dear reader, I am what some would call a feminist.

In that regard, the clothe brand Desigual campaign caught my attention since it shows women empowered with an immense right: the right to be reckless b*tches.

The ad indeed shows a girl – rather skinny to me, but that’s another debate – playing with a pillow as if she was pregnant and then pining condoms…

Oh right… how cool is it to make babies to random (or even known) blokes without notice?!! And hey, aren’t STDs some kind of urban legends?!

Thanksfully for human nature, I’m not the one thinking this ad is outrageous and although it is buzzing, it is doing so in a rather bad way.

 

France – A WOMAN leading a professional football team

Blamey, I am actually a rather angry piece of feminist. Here is another fact which caught my attention: for the first time in France, a woman is going to coach a male professional football, namely Clermont Ferrand.

This lady who has my entire admiration is the 36 years old Portuguese Helena Costa.

Football being such a sexist environment, I do feel that a battle has been won there and that it is one step further for equity.

A similar situation occurred earlier this year, when Mary Barra has been named head of the mammoth automotive group General Motors, becoming “America’s first female car chief”.

Since then, Barra has been facing court for serious car default issues for which she hasn’t been given satisfying explanations.

Let’s wish Helena to win the success battle, in order to truly make a point

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Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising

Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising
(Or how a random museum visit can turn out to be really interesting)

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London being, very luckily packed with interesting and FREE museum, a bright person would have gone for one of them for their Saturday visit. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

While planning a trip to Portobello Road (which, as a side note, is a very stupid thing to do on a Saturday, while attempting to explore the city), I figured very randomly by looking at Google map, that hidden in a street nearby Portobello stood the Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising.

After about 47 seconds of painful walk through the tourists in Portobello road, I decided to head straight there.

After the first disappointing request not to take pictures (boo!) I – predicatively – entered the exhibition.

The first (and main bit) of the museum, is structured by period, which makes the visit really interesting for a foreigner like me, enabling to learn about some key dates and facts.

Here are some random ones I wrote down:

  • The industrial revolution in the 19th century encouraged the development of souvenirs. Thus, just like it occurs for Kate & Williams wedding, Victoria and Albert wedding back in 1840 has been immortalised through souvenirs (well, probably not in the same variety/quantities)
  • It’s actually Queen Victoria who proposed!
  • 1910: brands such as Persil, Cadbury or Kiwi were already in place
  • In the 20’s electric trains trend arose for toys
  • In the 30’s: Sweet industry developed – Mars, Milky, Kit Kat and Toblerone were already delighting customers
  • The 40’s someone supported the emancipation of women, who took a key role in war.
  • Sill in the 40s, war and related topics was also reflected in toys: puzzles, board games, I’ve been surprised to see actual kid games involving Hitler
  • 1947: Queen Elizabeth wedding hasn’t been preserved from food rationing and shortage of material (to a certain royal extend of cours)
  • 1949: the birth of Brumas, first polar bear born in London Zoo has been a big event, advertised through some products
  • 1955: First independent british TV channel, funded by advertisement
  • In the 60’s, fancy toys for boys were around motoring, space and Action Man (who, I figured, is quite old!). Girls had fun with Barbie dolls, introduced in Britain in 1961 or Sindy, Barbie’s brit cousine introduced in 1963
  • 80’s: with the improvement of technology, devices are shrinking

Long story short, must see if you are into Brand & advertising (and ultimately packaging, although it doesn’t seem fancy put this way), like to get some history facts and don’t mind spending £6.50 for this (£2.25 if you are between 7 and 16 and free below that – in which case I’d be really impressed to have you as a reader)

 

Enjoy!

London [streets] calling

London Streets Calling or what to do on a day break in London

When I moved in London earlier this month, on a local contract, I knew that compared to France, bank holidays were rather rare. Four leaves trifles and shining stars kind of rare for us French.

It’s been therefore a marvellous surprise when I figured a couple of days ago that May day was coming up!

Luckily enough, my boyfriend had already plan a visit for that specific week end. We (or shall I say I, since I’m the one living here and supposed to lead the way) hadn’t quite plan anything and therefore just went with the flow, which turned out to be really cool.

Shoreditch

Needless to mention it is highly recommended to whoever – just like us – is a bit of a street art freak. Can’t avoid a visit to the European Mecca where this amazingly creative form of art was born.

Because an image is worth a thousand words, there you have a teaser of what you can expect to see:

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Because we were keen to live the British dream (and also because we’re greedy bastards), we decided to stop for a tea break. Oh what an idea.

In Bacon street, next to the famous Brick Lane, we stopped at the Vintage Emporium. Not only did we get served a generous and delicious Chai Latte, we also enjoyed (a lot) the retro and singular atmosphere.

We then decided to keep up with the good street vibe and to head to Camden town.

Camden town

I have to say… A few years ago when I was a post-teenager with no real desire to go alternative yet with a sense of randomness, I really liked Camden.

It was mildly wild, with a bit of everything everywhere.

Now, it is packed with mainstream shops and packaged like a wanabee-laid-back-hypstery Disneyland.

Having said that, I found it still amusing to wander around, have a glance in Cyberdog (which managed to bring the very niche techno universe to something trendy) and look at the gift shops, wondering what I’d bring to my family and friends if I had consider myself as a tourist.

After a couple of rounds to try to figure out where to stop amongst the thousands of stands, we ended up in one of the only (to my knowledge) covered restaurant within the stable: Seawise.

In a sailor-ish atmosphere, we have been served delicious fish and chips (with Samphire – steamed with garlic) and reached heaven. The place was really cosy and the staff absolutely adorable – I’ll go back there for sure!

And just like we started of the day, what best than a good walk around for local artworks!

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All these are obviously only a small sample of all the beauty you can find out there. Wouldn’t want to post everything, I’m not a spoiler!

Enjoy the walk!

Open a Bank Account…

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Be a grown up,  open a bank account…

After about a month in my new Brit home, and as pay day is fastly approaching, I figured it’d be a good time to start sorting out my grown up life and to open a bank account.

Little did I know it’d be another adventure.

In an attempt of being a proper reasonable adult, I started my quest to find a place where to secure my hard gained money on the Internet.
I tried to compare the different offers, identify the best banks according to the ranking, et…
I soon realised I didn’t understood crap about what was explained down there, so agreed I had to go straight on the battle field.

On the occasion of withdrawing a ridiculous amount of cash to finally pay the rent to my flatmate, I first went to NatWest, to start investigations.
There I got told that I needed a proof of ID (roger on this one) and proof of residency.
Having just moved in, I’m quite obviously not yet on such paperwork.
“You’re screwed then” said the ladie at the information desk (which isn’t literally what she said but what was she meant).

Fine. Next!

Then been to HSBC next door.
I got welcome by a very British polite men, in a 3 piece suit matching the brand VI.
“You would need a proof of ID and letter from your employer”
Better. The letter would take time and 50p to print at local internet café, but fairly easy to get.
“…or maybe you don’t have a job yet”
Damn you my complete lack of style, pre-teenage breasts and baby face. Another fella who things I’m a student while I’m nearly 30.
After replying that I actually of have an employer, he asked whom probably to check whereas I was another foreign Starbucks Barista.
I then gave him what seems to be a satisfying answer for a banker, he kindly advised that taking an appointment might take a while and we agrees that I’d come back later on.

But since I like Bank Hunt as much as eating a bowl of Marmite (Yes, I’m from the Hate it gang), I decided to try the Lloyds bank.

At the info desk, I got welcomed by a lady who, just like the HSBC fella, was dressed up with the bank colours, except that she imposed it to herself up to the nail polish.
“To open a bank account, you just need 2 proofs of IDs”
Man. That sentence felt like a warm Chai tea latte on a rainy day.
Lloyds it was then!
I agreed to take an appointment to come back to the day after.

So there I am, in Lloyds bank, typing this post while waiting for my banker to show up to my appointment. If time is money, I can tell that Lloyds is making me loosing some precious dime right now!

The good news is, I soon won’t need to open this bank account because I’ll probably loose my job for being away from my laptop for more than twelve minutes. No job, no payslip right?!

[Typing pause while I have actually been taken are of…]

The whole waiting thing was a misunderstanding apparently. I’m all good with my banker now… And proud of myself for being such an organised piece of adult. I even got myself a file to celebrate!

So that’s it 🙂 I now have my bank account open… “Make it rain…”