Year in Review: 2013

Better late than never, as they say! My annual year in review for 2013 begins now. In summary, it’s been a very full and eventful year. Some of my friends left Hugo & Cat but I also have made new ones this year too. I got a new work visa to stay in the UK another three years, I achieved the next level of kickboxing belt, I went surfing in Spain and I dyed my hair red. I only hope 2014 is even better and just as eventful!

January

  • Sherrie and I attended possibly one of the most cheesy (but very fun) musicals in London, Viva Forever. Sherrie, you spice up my life!
  • London got snow – always seems to come in January! I hope it comes soon again this year.
  • Happy Birthday Miriam!
  • Booked flights home to Canada to sort out a new visa in the summer.

February

  • I started the great cake adventure of 2013, beginning with a red velvet cheesecake which won hearts and fans.
  • I won tickets to the Kensington Roof Gardens for a movie date with my girl Sherrie
  • In the midst of a very bitterly frigid winter, Mother Nature graced us with balmy double figure temperatures. The people of London rejoice.
  • More cake. This time a chocolate peanut butter layer cake. Mmmmmmmmm.
  • Anita took me to see Justin Timberlake at the Forum, where as he walks on stage I promptly reverted to my 15 year old self, squealing like all the teenage girls I despise at concerts. HOW DOES HE DO THAT?!
  • I fell into a massive girl crush for J-Law. F*cking amazing woman. See her awesomeness here.
  • Rich left Hugo & Cat, so I made a carrot cake for him. A carrot cake that still continues to be requested to this day.

March

  • Cake continues… with carrots.
  • I made a Chocolate Guinness Cake for the St. Patricks Day Hugo & Cat bake-off. Disaster ensued. I cried. Further detail of the incident here.
  •  My good friend James left Hugo & Cat, so I made him a carrot cake too. Gee, lots of cake in March eh?
  • Booked a trip to Edinburgh for May. HERE I COME SCOTLAND!

April

  • James’ annual pub crawl. Always a winner. I made it to all 24 pubs this year and by the end of the day was ready to collapse and just sleep on the sidewalk, from fatigue (not intoxication).
  • Oreo cheesecake!
  • I started assisting classes at Springhealth kickboxing and spending a ridiculous amount of time at the gym in general as I also started training towards my next belt.
  • Attempted another chocolate guinness cake. This one managed to stay off the pavement.
  • The weather finally starts to get better and Joelle and I get our annual picnic in Green Park.
  • Due to the warmer climate, we also begin our work lunches in the park.

May

  • I take a lovely first class train journey on a beautiful day up to Edinburgh. Lovely. I meet some awesome ladies at my hostel and proceed to spend most of time with them. Miss you Maria and Lara!
  • Johnny leaves Hugo & Cat, thus continuing the mass exodus of my work friends in 2013. 😦
  • I head back to Kensington Roof Gardens with the lovely Anita for some cocktails!

June

  • The Sound of Change at Twickenham Stadium brought Beyonce and friends to London. Then somebody decided to jump in front of train stopping transport back into central London which meant 3 miles walk, 3 train stations, 1 train, and a £55 cab ride home.
  • I spent a very painful £550 extra for my summer flights home to Canada, having to push the dates back to fit with my new work visa application.
  • I reached my one year anniversary for kickboxing, and I’m still hooked!
  • Went to the zoo for the very first time in my life. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! 😀
  • Went to my very first live filming of a television show, the Graham Norton Show. Guests were Sandra Bullock, Samuel L Jackson, and Nick Frost. It was quite the fun night with my ladies from kickboxing. 🙂

July

  • Business trip to Helsinki – always love these!
  • Nam visits from Vancouver on his way through London to a trip around Europe. We went to see Thriller Live!, which was quite fun.
  • My girl Sherrie and I brought sexy back at the Wireless Festival with Justin Timberlake. JT never disappoints! 😀
  • I graded and passed for my next kickboxing belt, Red 2. Pretty sure it was the hottest day of the year, but we did it!
  • Twenty-fifth birthday celebrations with friends in the beer gardens, whoop whoop!
  • Got my new Nokia Lumia 925 and I still absolutely love it! Wouldn’t go back to iPhone now.
  • I went home to Canada for a couple of weeks while I applied for a new work visa to stay in the UK. I’m now legally able to stay for another 3 years!
  • Got to see one of my best friends play Joseph in the local production of Joseph and the technicolor dreamcoat three times!

August

  • Hugo & Cat summer party! Good times are had as always.
  • Booked a trip to Spain for a surfing holiday with my lovely lady friends from kickboxing!
  • Explored Kew Gardens for the first time with my friend Keith on a lovely bank holiday weekend.

September

  • Went to a burlesque show with Sherrie – was so much fun and a really interesting experience!
  • My favourite season arrived and I commenced celebrate by making pumpkin pie, as per usual.
  • SURFING IN SPAIN with the ladies. I’d never been on a holiday with friends before, but this turned out to be absolutely epic. I faced a fear of open water, and learned a few things about surfing too.
  • My two year anniversary in London came and passed. It’s been a whirlwind so far and it only continues to get better as I expand my horizons. Thank you London and all of my new friends here for what you’ve given me so far.

October

  • The guys at work went to Hong Kong for another Nokia film shoot and brought me back some awesome gifts.
  • I decided to move for the first time since I arrived in London. So far this has been an excellent decision as I’m now so much closer to the gym and all my social activities. Transport has also become infinitely easier.
  • I made cake again, for the first time in a long time. It was easily the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made.
  • Work and kickboxing continue to fill all my empty minutes.

November

  • Two of my kickboxing instructors went to the world’s and brought back championship medals. So proud and privileged to be trained by them!
  • Back to Helsinki for a couple days again – always love this! Unfortunately the trips are always a bit too short for my liking.
  • Kat’s birthday and a great night out in Camden to see Nick’s band Shapes & Colours. Always fun.
  • For the first time in my life I coloured my hair. It was time for a change and a little adventure. Turns out I love myself as a redhead and so do a lot of other people. 😀
  • Moved into my new home in North London. Now I will have more time to sleep and get to my social events quicker – boom!

December

  • Kat and I geeked out and went to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour of the Making of Harry Potter where we squealed with delight over butterbeer, props, and sets.
  • I began a countdown for not only my holidays but also for Morgan’s arrival.
  • Hugo & Cat Christmas party whoop whoop!
  • Morgan arrives with a satchel full of gifts from home – thanks Mum!
  • Christmas with my second family in London was great – it consisted of doing barely anything all day and eating and playing xbox and watching TV. Perfect.
  • New Years Eve was spent in a quiet pub with friends and there was no fuss made – just how I like it. Didn’t have to worry about crowds or stupid people on underground transportation. Perfect.
Advertisements

Perspective

The days are finally feeling longer again in yet the temperature refuses to keep up with the times. Apparently this is the longest, coldest winter the UK has seen in over 30 years and I get to be here for it! I really do get why the British are so obsessed with talking about the weather though, I mean it’s positively ridiculous – how could you not be?

The reason for my post today is slightly linked to the weather actually. You see, I’ve recently posted on Facebook quite frequently about my dislike and contempt for this weather. And one of my very dear good friends posted something along the lines of “oh poor you, in London with bad weather”. I understand you, Leslie – I really do! And she’s right, of course. How dare I complain about the weather when I get to live in as great a city as London with no kids to be responsible for or any mouths to feed other than my own or any hypothetical ropes to tie me to my location? It sure does sound selfish and unaware of me doesn’t it?

I’ve talked about perspective before, I’m sure. The thing is that it keeps cropping up and I always try to remember that behind every argument, misunderstanding, barbed comment, and quietly uttered gossip, there is perspective. Of course, there are situations where one party is right and the others wrong, however I think a lot of the time it is really just a difference of perspective and the inability to either recognise this difference or the inability to understand the other side of the coin.

Every single weekday morning and evening I walk by a Tesco on my way to work. A lot of the time there is a homeless man standing outside asking for change. I know he recognises me because he sees me nearly every day as I pass by. (As a side note I just realised I typed “recognises” with an ‘S’ automatically and now I’m afraid of how English I’m really becoming without my noticing… but I digress). And there are times at the end of the work day where I just feel utterly exhausted and defeated and walk with my head down and shoulders slumped. When I pass him he says, with a smile on his face, “that bad is it?”. PERSPECTIVE. He’s a homeless man asking for change (in THIS weather!) and I’m moping about over a hard day at the office.

That said, let’s look back to my beloved friend Leslie (I hope she doesn’t mind) – she has two beautiful children and a loving husband. She lives in Yellowstone National Park with nature abundant around her. Her likely perspective (which I can understand): she has two children demanding every second of her precious time, her loving husband works nights and there’s nowhere to go because she lives in the middle of a national park with scary-looking buffalo surrounding her backyard. My perspective: she has a man who loves her no matter what and a family she has been able to create with precious moments and memories only children can give you every once in a while. And she has buffalo surrounding her backyard.

I live in London and have a good job with some pretty awesome friends and free evenings to myself whenever I want them. Her likely perspective: I live in a city where nearly anything is possible, I have a great job, and I don’t have anyone to worry about but myself at the end of the day.  My perspective: I live in a polluted rush of life and while I don’t have anyone to worry about but myself at the end of the day, I also don’t have anyone to worry about me at the end of the day either.

It really is all in perspective and, no matter what your religious or non-religious views, thankfulness. I know for a fact that Leslie is thankful for her family although it no doubt must try her patience and strength sometimes, as it does all mothers. And I know that I am thankful for where I am in life as well. That doesn’t stop people (or at least not for long) looking at others and envying what we do not have – I guess it’s human nature and the result of an ever-connected semi-transparent world. It’s also partly a result of people posting on social media about the pseudo-perfect life they want people to see, rather than how their life really is. And how can we blame each other, when if I was to post how my life really is, you would look at me and ask why I was complaining and vice versa? Not only is this perspective but the different things each person values.

Perspective. It is in everything, because we are all unique. And thank goodness for that.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a half-full bottle of wine sitting on my kitchen counter that I believe I shouldn’t leave alone…

Three things you should know

London Winter
Definition: A supreme force that sucks all will to live from you.

I have never ever before hated Winter. I guess there’s a first time for everything. Maybe it’s that the days here are a bit shorter (since it’s a bit further North than Vancouver). Or that whether there is precipitation or not it is always cloudy and grey. Or maybe it’s that the wind chill makes you want to throw a temper tantrum at Mother Nature for being so bloody downright cruel all the time.

And then when the sun comes out and you get a high of 10 degrees you realise how complete and utterly depressed you were and you just couldn’t accept it because there was no real explanation other than the lack of good weather. I GET IT NOW ENGLAND. I UNDERSTAND YOU. Let’s blow this fascist popsicle stand and re-settle somewhere with better weather.

Other than my seemingly daily temper tantrums at Mother Nature, life has been good. Kickboxing continues as always, which fills most of my weeknights. The rest of my spare time I’ve put into several social events around London, sitting around at home (cause in this weather you don’t want to do anything usually), or BAKING.

Yes, that means cake. I’ve decided to start a new project in which I bake something new for the office every other week. Bekah’s Baking Bonanza truly began with a Red Velvet Cheesecake and then was today followed with a Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake. Every other week I will put a poll to the office of four things I can bake, and they will vote. Whichever gets the most votes I make for the following Monday and the runner up gets put in the next vote with three other new options. Sounds fun, right?

I’m hoping that baking (and plenty of wine consumption) will keep my mind off of travelling for a few months. Since my awesome employer has said they will sponsor me to stay here a bit longer, it means I need to save money to do so. The problem is the border agency likes to make it really difficult and expensive. Here’s my cost breakdown:

  • Visa application cost: £512
  • Maintenance funds: £900
  • Round-trip flight to Vancouver: £650

That means I need to spend £2062 just to continue being an exceptional resident and employee in Britain. Those maintenance funds are to prove I can support myself in the UK (even though I already have a job) since I don’t qualify for public funds assistance, and they have to be in my bank account for 90 consecutive days prior to my visa application. “But why the flight to Vancouver?” you ask. Well, you see, there’s this really stupid rule where I cannot directly switch into the Tier 2 General sponsorship visa from the current visa I’m on (Tier 5 Youth Mobility). My current visa is the only one you’re not allowed to switch directly from. Of course! So this means I must return to Canada to re-apply from my home country and I am at the mercy of Ottawa, passport-less, while they process my application for anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Sounds fun, right?! No. Just….. NO.

The reason I put myself through this is because my current visa expires in August, and I feel like I’m not quite done with Europe yet (despite the shit weather in London). I need at least another couple of years to get in some more travelling and my career is going well. Perhaps I’ll be able to afford a short trip in the spring before I go back to Canada in June to handle my visa application – something close like Edinburgh or Barcelona maybe.

So what were those three things you should know?

  1. Winter in the UK sucks. Avoid it at all costs.
  2. I’m becoming a master baker. Laugh all you like –  you’ll be coming to me for advice and goodies soon my friends.
  3. I’m planning on staying in London for a bit longer.

I know there are people out there searching. Searching for baking tips, cool cake recipes, help with UK visa applications, and perhaps the meaning of life and why they’re here. I can help with all of these, except that last one – you’ll have to see my awesome LDS friends for that one. Feel free to get in touch if you need advice on any of the first three though.

Love always – BEKS

2012 – A Year in Review

Usually I post a year in review on New Years Eve. Unfortunately I missed it for 2012, but I don’t think it’s too late. This is also probably a good way to pick up the blog again, as it’s obvious I got a bit too busy the last couple of months!

January is always a month of recovery and slow paced activities. So the only thing I have for January 2012 is a celebration of Australia day with a taste test of Vegemite. I don’t think I ever need to try it again.

February brought a very busy month at work and a short 24hr business trip to Helsinki. Given the long days at work, not much happened this month either.

Continue reading

Turning point

Am I a Londoner? No.
Am I a tourist? Not anymore.
Am I a Canadian? Most definitely.

I noticed today that I’ve never gone on an international trip since the Vancouver Olympics without sporting my Canadian hoody. No pun intended.

Canadian-apparel

On a more serious note, I think nearly two weeks ago I reached a new level of my career. What’s funny is, I didn’t realise it fully until I was sitting in the back of taxi watching the landscape of Finland fly by.

Let’s back up shall we? For the past month or so my friend and colleague, James, has been organising the production of a film for a client, among other projects. While being partly involved I mostly went on doing my usual work for my own projects. During all this I was ridiculously jealous of his pending expense-paid trip to Rio for part of the film shoot. It turns out that it was a blessing in disguise that I was left behind in London.

He was gone for 7 days. 

The day he left, shit got crazy (for who knows what reason) – so it was me who had to pick up the slack of several projects with an immovable deadline. Seven days passed and I feel like I did the amount of work for 4 people, not 2.

In those 7 days a few things probably slipped by me (let’s face it, there’s only so much one person can do and remember when there aren’t enough hours in the day). Overall though, I feel quite proud of myself for just getting to it and not cracking under pressure. By the way, you’d be surprised how helpful listening to Eye of the Tiger and Thunderstruck is to keep you going.

All of this lead up to that taxi driving through Helsinki. As the only person with full critical project knowledge and the technical skills required to follow all the work through to the end, I was sent on a solo mission to Finland for a day to “liaise” the launch of this new project that was my entire existence for 7 days.

Yeah, I know – crazy right?

——-

Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side. I’ve never regretted my decision to move to London, not even for a second – and it’s times like this that remind me why I came here in the first place.

As I’m writing this post on my phone in transit from the airport, I’m ridiculously exhausted, starving, in a lot of pain, and dirty from travel. But I can’t help but feel that life is pretty good right now, or wait – is it work? I guess if I don’t know the difference, it’s a good thing? (this is the point where I’ve realised that, for the first time ever and in my excitement to get to food, pain killers, and a bed as quickly as possible, I’ve caught my tube connection in the wrong direction and must be the moron that gets off the train and walks across the platform to catch it in the other direction.)

In case you were wondering, yes I do have a pump-up playlist. No, I’m not giving it to you because you should create your own.

… And no I don’t care how cheesy you think I am.