27 – the number of weeks before our working visas expire.
Every Aussie or Kiwi in London is aware of the looming date of their working visa expiry and the countdown begins when you realise that you have not done enough to be satisfied with your #grownupgapyear. After we survive our second London winter and travel throughout the spring, it is likely that we will be moving onto new pastures once we reach summer.
With the end in sight we are planning as much leave from work and as many holidays as we can. I have to admit, I have a serious case of FOMO – fear of missing out.
I blame my FOMO for many things; my tiredness on Tuesdays; my decreasing bank balance; me being recognised by the bartender in many of London’s bars and pubs; never having enough time to catch up with new friends let alone with friends and family from home.
But it is also one of the reasons why we have had an epic couple of months. Autumn is still my favourite of all of the seasons.
After my cousin Tennielles’ visit in the first week of September, we spent the last few weeks of summer enjoying Four Weddings and Funeral at an open air theatre, attending the filming of Live at the Apollo at the Hammersmith Apollo, at a London Lions vs Manchester Giants basketball game at the Copper Box Olympic venue and spending our hard earned coin at the TNT Magazine Travel Show.
Mum and Dad joined arrived from France on the first weekend in October and we spent a wonderful two days with them in the Peak District.
In the same week, we caught up with an uncle and aunt from Lismore and were treated to a wonderful meal at Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian. Mum, Aunty Gabe and I spent one afternoon in true British fashion, sampling of fine teas, delicate mains and exquisite cakes at The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason.
Fortnum & Mason, transformed into a speciality tea department store in 1926, has been sourcing and selling superb quality tea for over 300 years. Afternoon tea here has been an institute since the 1920s and the refurbished St James’s restaurant was opened as The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon in March 2012 by HM the Queen accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge.
We attempted to keep a low profile throughout October in a bid to save for upcoming winter holidays, but we thoroughly enjoyed catching up with mum and dad before they departed on their Latin American adventure.
On the last weekend of the month we hosted a Halloween Party in honour of housemate Rekha’s upcoming birthday. The night was a great hit and most of our guests joined in the fun by dressing up as zombies, witches and all things scary.
So far, November has been hectic. We had a 5 day mini break in Scotland where we learned to ride horses, drove to Loch Ness and explored castles amongst the incredible red, orange and yellow autumn foliage. Read more about our amazing adventure here.
One Monday night, on my way to a birthday dinner via Leicester Square in West End, I was pulled into a crowd and hoarded into prime position to see all of the Hollywood famous actors swan around the world premier to The Hunger Games’ second installment Catching Fire. I was directly opposite the paparazzi and had a great time hoping my phone battery wouldn’t die before I could take photos of the backs of Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson and Jena Malone (to name a few).
This incredible experience was followed by a dinner at wood-panelled, retro-chic The Ivy. This landmark restaurant is in the heart of the theatre district and was once, and probably still is, a magnet for the movers and shakers of London. It is regularly haunted by paparazzi during peak eating hours on busy nights searching for the likes of Kate Moss or George Clooney, who I am sure don’t need to go through the online booking service weeks in advance. The service was lovely, even if the food had room for improvement.
A comedy night at Stand Up For The Week, El’s 30th birthday at Paper Dress with brilliant bands, and an afternoon at the theatre forMatt Stone and Trey Parker’s Book of Morman (5 stars!) topped off the week as one of the busiest and glamorous of our 15 months in London. There was no FOMO that week!
This past Saturday we caught up with Kiwis and Aussies at the double header Rugby League World Cup semi-final matches at Wembley Stadium. In a nail biting match, the Kiwis narrowly beat England for a place in the final against Australia this coming weekend. Australia had an easy win against Fiji (64-0 I think) that complimented a fantastic weekend in sport for the Aussies… results in the Ashes and rugby union were a very welcome sight.
Slightly sleep deprived (the Ashes are currently being played in Australia where the time difference is 10+ hours!) we spent Sunday evening grooving to the rock ballads of The Fratellis at the Shepherds Bush O2.
As I watch the sun set over Tuesday afternoon (at 3.35pm!!!) I am looking forward to this weekend’s adventures. We are heading north to Manchester where I hope the Aussies still have enough momentum to keep the Kiwi’s in check for the Rugby League World Cup final.