The first month in London

A month has rolled by pretty quickly and I think that’s because I’ve got a lot of my life admin sorted and started the focus on looking for jobs. I’m pretty keen to get started as soon as possible so I can get some income over the Christmas period, without a job now would probably mean no work until early February (which on top of the trip back for the weddings would mean March!).

Interestingly enough, I always wanted to go back to being a Business Analyst, simply because it’d be easier to contract but I haven’t had a great call back rate. Funnily enough, applications for Product Owner roles have had much greater success, not sure if there’s less supply for the role here, or recruiters are more focussed on my most recent experience.

I’ve found a more permanent home as well, it’s a room shared with 3 others right next to Old Street station. Few things that made me choose it; first the dates lined up perfectly with the end of my Airbnb and giving a day overlap to make moving easier. Two, it’s a short lease period, 3 months and to get out you only need a month’s notice after that. Thirdly, the space itself was decent, might sound silly, but the fact it had a living room and a decent sized kitchen was a winner.

Some photos from the listing:

A lot of places in London convert the living space into a bedroom so they can rent it out for more money, but there’s no way I’m living out of my room and only going to the kitchen to cook and eat.

Price? £1040/month including bills and a weekly cleaner, not cheap at all but nothing in this area is really, also seem to be a decrease in availabilities as Christmas rolls round, would rather focus on the job hunt than apartment hunting.

Not fussed, I’m just really looking forward to getting out of the Airbnb and into a better space. 5 weeks was definitely too long and I probably didn’t need so much time to find a new rental. Easy to say in hindsight. What’s compounded this was the fact that a couple decided to bring a toddler into one of the rooms, and they were here for quite a few days. Thankfully he doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night, but goddamn he loves to scream. Probably because the parents spoil him with entertainment on the phone or something.

A little later there were some rather annoying girls in the room next door, they arrived late and decided they’d have some banter at 1am, had to go tell them off, their assumption, “oh, we thought we were the only ones”. Like seriously? There are 4 rooms and you’d assume you’re alone.

Anyway, good to see more familiar faces from back home with fellow CBA colleague Marina finally settling down from her travels and getting organised in London. Caught up with her for coffee at an Aussie-run place and lunch Hoppers which did some lovely Sri Lankan food.

My favourite about this place though was the fact that the menu includes a glossary to explain what the dishes are!

Nonetheless, outside of the home, Christmas is a huge thing over here and it’s really quite amazing and beautiful. Many of the streets in Soho and surrounds have decorations that light, each with their own little spectacle as they turn on a specific date.

Carnaby street was the first one that we saw switch on and it’s a rather different to the traditional Christmas theme, instead opting for a Rio-inspired carnival theme (which goes nicely with the street name too!).

The switch on packed the streets with dancers, music and plenty of crowds. Many of the stores had discounts to join the celebrations too.

I missed the Oxford street one, but the entire street is light up quite nicely.

I did however, catch the  Regents street which is probably the most extravagant with giant angels suspended above the street, all lit up in lights of course.

The switch on was accompanied with some fireworks and a few specials with the stores on the street.

Dinner was at Duck and Waffle local, a spin off from the famous one in casual setting and a limited menu. Like everyone is in London, it’s a chain. Their famous duck and waffle dish is served here though and I thought it was quite delicious!

The special for the Regents St lights switch on was a free dessert, a waffle cone version of their regular desserts, still very substantial!

Winter Wonderland is another magical thing they have here, it’s basically a giant carnival/fair thing full of rides, foods, games, markets and more! It’s got a giant rollercoaster with 4 full loops as well as plenty of entertainment for grown ups, a german-themed beer hall and even a few carousel bars! Might dedicate another post for this (if I manage to write more than one post a month!).

Finished setting up my company and it was a strange experience going into HSBC opening up a business account on behalf of a company. Wasn’t particularly prepared and I was taken back for a moment when I had to discuss what the business was doing, how much turn over and how I’d be bringing clients. Nonetheless, account is underway and free for 18 months!

An accounting firm I’ve used (Capital City Accountancy, let me know if you need a referral) were great help in getting things set up and telling me what needs to be done.

There was a parade for the Lord Mayor (what his role is, I’m still not rather sure. Something about being in charge of the financial district, different to a city mayor). Quite a large spectacle and ended up with a lot of photos so maybe another post for that too.

Had my first football experience here with a rather uneventful friendly game, England vs. Brazil. Honestly most of the times it was more amusing watching people fold up paper aeroplanes and attempt to launch them down at the field. Also learnt that hard way that you’re not allowed to have your beer at your seat! Tried to skull down the pint, but only managed 90% of the way, too cold!

To be more cultured I visited the V&A (or Victoria & Albert) museum which basically has a lot of relics from different cultures over the time. Some of the stuff is rather elegant and nice and a great insight into the lives of the people before us (also amazing at out extravagant some of it was). It has this gorgeous courtyard in the middle.

The outside however, on one entrance has a super modern looking courtyard.

Strangely enough though, it was one of their side exhibits that I really enjoyed and possibly on what initially could be the most boring subject matter. Plywood.

Yes, I ended being super fascinated with plywood, from how it’s made to how it’s shaped to make furniture and how it’s actually very strong for its weight. The manufacture of it is pretty cool, essentially a log is shaved similar to how a pencil is sharpened (but length-wise, obviously) and each sheet is glued and compressed together. Placing each sheet 90 degrees to the one next to it is what gives it its strength.

To curve plywood, you take the same process but you shape it to a mould right after you apply the glue and layers!

Also spent a few hours with Long at the tate modern and after 2 short tours of the place we were knackered. It’s amazing how much difference the art experience is when you’re given the context of the artist, the times they were in and the motivations for the art piece. It makes a lot more sense! Crazy that our tour guide isn’t an arts student but volunteers and does her own research.

Also heard the brits pronounce urinal as you-rye-nal which I found rather odd-sounding.

Job-wise, ended up a bit strange but Arriva changed up the role a bit and gave me an offer, still not exactly sure what the role is, but it’s probably best described as a BA with a touch product ownership to convert their findings into a product roadmap (without actually being responsible for it). Doesn’t matter, it’s a job for now and means I won’t be cutting into my savings over Christmas and the new year.

Arriva’s a bus and train company that operates in over 12 countries around Europe, definitely something completely different but it’ll be an interesting project.

Quite an eventful first month as I look back and this isn’t even all of it.

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