London Travel Diaries: Week 4

After spending four weeks living and working in London, my life back home feels like a distant memory. Living at home, driving a car, work, family, friends and my boyfriend seem a bit foreign. I can truly see why moving to another country can help people move on and forget. 

As much as people seem to believe that my cooking would have improved here, it really hasn’t. If anything this has confirmed what I have known all along, that my culinary skills are nonexistent. My cooking blunder of the week was forgetting to defrost the chicken I was planning on making for dinner and only realizing when looking at the cooking instructions. I lay on my bed for an hour debating whether to either go back out or skip eating entirely while my bf researched delivery options. Eventually I decided on Nandos. Just like McDonalds, Nandos is obviously way better back in SA. I will give them props for doing a better garlic roll and having more vegetarian and side options.

Keeping with visiting a museum during the week theme, I paid a visit to the Wellcome Collection. They close at 10pm on a Thursday which is perfect for an after work trip. The museum is quite small with only a few rooms to see: a sexology exhibition (not as risqué as it sounds), Medicine Now representing ideas about science and medicine, Medicine Man is a collection of various medicine related objects and lastly there is a very cool reading room where you can even play board games!

I feel bittersweet towards Valentine’s Day. I look forward to it and also don’t look forward to it at the same time. While the weekend was indeed Valentine’s Day, it was more importantly a girls Valentine weekend away in Birmingham. I was really looking forward to it and it didn’t disappoint. This was the first time I took a train out of London and it was quite overwhelming arriving at a super busy station not long before my train was leaving and not knowing what to do. I think what freaked me out was Makatu had told me the previous week that if you miss your train you have to buy another ticket. I was initially panicked because I couldn’t find our train as it has been cancelled or find Michelle who had our tickets. Traveling out of London can be quite expensive especially if you are going for the day. Expect to pay at least 30 pounds return for destinations longer than 30 minutes.

First up on the agenda was a little fair called Wonderworld theme park. We thought we were paying entrance fees but actually ended up getting on a mini rollercoaster. One of the highlights of the trip (well for Michelle & I) was poor Makatu getting so scared on the ride to the point that she closed her eyes and was crying by the end of it. After a round of bumper cars and attempting to win minions it was time to hit the shops. That and the fact that it was cold!

I loved that we did a canal side walk before dinner at Wagamama. It was interesting to observe the Valentine’s dates happening from the cute young (possibly high school) couple to the old married couple who probably didn’t know it was Valentine’s. Our biggest conversation point were a group of people where the girls were dressed to the point of being overdressed and the guys made no effort at all with their sloppy appearance. I tried the prawn firecracker dish which didn’t hit the spot for me with its over the top strong asian flavours. The prawn is definitely a better choice than chicken because the pieces they serve are so dodge it’s doesn’t look or taste like chicken. I can’t see why South Africans hype up this place, it seems to be another case of people liking it just because it is not available in SA.

Back when the girls were in SA I would organize girls night out where we would do dinner and watch a movie. It seemed only fitting for us to carry on the tradition as it had been over three years since we had all been together. This is going to sound so cliched but we watched 50 Shades of Grey. Yes. I know. Now I knew the movie was going to be bad but I thought hey it couldn’t be worse than the book. Boy was I wrong. Makatu spent her time rolling her eyes and sighing more than Ana did and the trailer for Magic Mike XXL was the most exciting thing that happened in the movie. For a movie that should be pleasing to women we saw way too much naked Ana and way too little Christian. The characters lacked chemistry and really just felt flat. Although it was a total waste of money we still had a good night and we’re glad we saw it and could form an opinion on it.

On Sunday morning we went to the Bull Ring shopping mall. Makatu insisted that all visitors to Birmingham have to take a picture with the bull. Michelle was then inspired to use the red scarf she was wearing to flag the bull down. You will probably wonder after seeing the picture why I was acting like a bull? I wish I had an answer to that question! Shopping in Birmingham is such a stark contrast to London. It’s more pleasant because it isn’t as busy and you will find items that have sold out in London.

What we were all really excited about was paying a visit to Cadbury World. Fourteen themed zones about chocolate – who could resist! We got to read and watch the chocolate making process, watch a cool 4D film, take a ride while viewing singing chocolate eggs in different locations, visit the world’s biggest Cadbury shop and get free chocolate. One of the highlights was a cup of melted hot chocolate with your own choice of toppings.

We finished the weekend off by having dinner at the Brew Dog and then it was time for Michelle and I to head back to London.

I absolutely enjoyed every moment of my weekend away with the girls. Makatu was a great host to us. It’s really rare to find friends who you can just “be”. It doesn’t matter if I last saw them a day ago or years ago. We can just pick up and be at ease with each other. The conversation never runs dry and we alway have the biggest laughs. I’m so very glad that I am getting to spend this time with them and create memories that I will always treasure.

Random musings:

– People earn more money but also spend way more. The social scene here is on another level so you end up going out often with the costs of going out also being tenfold higher. Travel is also so convenient with everything a short flight away. Who wants to save when Paris is an hour away?

– I find the naming convention weird here. I still get quite shocked to see kaffir lime or rapeseed oil listed as ingredients. Initially I thought it was a spelling mistake and it should have been grapeseed oil! There are also the weird names that some places have. The perfect example: Cockfosters. How does anyone maintain a straight face when saying they live in Cockfosters? Why is it called that? Do they have lots of cocks fostering around? Now I totally know I will get a lot of dodge searches directing to my blog because I mentioned the word cock. Another one that deserves a mention is Chelsea Worlds End.

– Loud people on the tube or in public are always people that are of a non-British nationality. I have found the French to be the loudest to the point of annoying.

– I have also come to realize the tube isn’t that bad. They are widespread enough that you will never have to walk very far to get to a destination. It still is annoying in terms of having to carry your shopping around or needing to hire a car when going out of London or the fact that it is a little soul destroying. The tubes do get exceptionally hot when packed and are apparently unbearable during Summer. That aside I don’t understand when I hear people complaining about the cost of transport here. I do think that it is much cheaper taking the tube and paying rands than what I would pay on a car instalment, petrol and insurance.

– This is a nation of people who read. I love that there are people on the tube that will read a newspaper or a book. I have seen people reading whilst standing up and packed in. It is also great that people can pick up a newspaper for free from the station.

Sightseeing round up: Wellcome Collection, Wonderworld Theme Park, The Mailbox mall, Birmingham Canal, Wagamama, Broadway plaza, The Bullring, Cadbury World, Brew Dog

1. Cafe at the Wellcome Collection / 2. Representation of obesity / 3. Model of body where different organs light up / 4. Reorganized skeleton / 5. Collection of cylinders in Medicine Man / 6 Portraits of people from Africa / 7&8. The Reading Room at The Wellcome Collection / 9. Possibly the comfiest staircase ever? / 10. Selfies on the train to Birmingham / 11. Selfies at the Wonderworld Theme Park / 12 -19. Rides at Wonderworld Theme Park / 20. Makatu & Michelle with the minions they won  / 21. Bumper cars / 22. Huge minions we wanted to win / 23. Canal side in Birmingham / 24. Prawn firecracker dish at Wagamama / 25. Pretending to be a bull (seemed like a good idea at the time!) / 26. Posing with the bull at The Bullring / 27. Selfies while Michelle shopped / 28&29. St Martin’s Church / 30. Cadbury World tickets & map / 31. Posing with Mr Cadbury’s Parrot / 32. Outdoor section at Cadbury World / 33&34. Inside Cadbury Cadabra ride / 35. Melted chocolate & toppings / 36. Mirror selfie – one of my favourite pics of us! / 37. Inside the Cadbury shop / 38. Posing with Liquorice man, Freddo & Creme Egg / 39. Makatu getting up close with Freddo / 40. Michelle with her favourite Creme Egg / 41. Cadbury World Logo / 42. Cadbury World tickets / 43. Cadbury shop filled with chocolate / 44. Chocolate wheel / 45. German cola / 46. Burger at Brew Dog

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Sights Seen: 7
Photos taken: 506
Pounds spent: 102

xoxo,
CG

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