I can’t believe that this is my second post in less than 24 hours. Woah! Anyhow, I am moving AGAIN today. I actually found a flat of my very own that is not only affordable but in a good location. Problem is, I have to move BACK to my old flat with my former flatmate for a month in anticipation of the tenant leaving…. Uggghhh. Welcome to renting in London. Unless you make a pretty good salary, likely you will need to share a flat with others. This isn’t a bad thing if you are laid back. I am not laid back. I prefer to live alone and manage my own daily stuff.

The new flat will be microscopic but lovely. I feel completely blessed. The hilarious part about it will be that the fella will be moving in with me at the end of summer. Our task will be to renovate the flat so that we can both fit in comfortably.

If you ever move to London, understand that you will be moving a lot! Most flats come furnished (often with the most putrid/ugly furniture that you can imagine) and with something terribly wrong about it (bad flatmate, no hot water, cold, moldy, location)… The good news is that after you put in some good time you will get closer to getting what you want.


Travel. Travel. Travel. I have barley done any of it since I got to this country. But, I think I am getting my stride.

The boyfriend and I decided to go on a romantic trip to Dublin, Ireland over the weekend. As a novice traveler, I was totally nervous as I paid for the flights and booked the hotel (he was very busy working on a project). As a North American I totally thought that the tickets from London to Ireland would be outrageously expensive. Nope! Under £130 for the both of us, return! I chose a humble but clean hotel for us as well. That was a bit more expensive (just over 200 Euro) for three days. In total, this trip was a bargain.

I had the Friday off of work but the bf did have to go into work so we planned to meet up at Victoria Station around 4:30 pm. We had time for dinner around the corner from the station before catching the train to Gatwick airport. We had a number of drinks and boarded our 9:30 flight. We were in Dublin by 11pm. We managed to catch a bus into the city right away. It was FREEZING outside, which was a shock to us.

Once we found our hotel room we decided to opt out of a nightcap drink at the many pubs and decided on getting a good night’s sleep. The weather was lovely on Saturday morning (above). We couldn’t wait to hit the city! We wandered around the streets for a bit until we found a cafe that served a traditional Irish Breakfast. Following that we wandered around the city but decided it was too cold. We were tired and lazy so we decided on hitting a pub to see what the fuss was all about!

After a snooze at the hotel, we decided to go to a show at a popular concert venue called the Whelan to see Ben Folds. The gig was spectacular. We piled out of there by 10:30. We crossed the street for some amazing sushi. We fell fast asleep a few hours later. What a day!

We skipped the overly greasy breakfast on Sunday and decided on a heartier brunch instead. We went to Hatch and Sons for some traditional Irish food. We were FLOORED by how amazing our beef and chicken stews tasted. We were warmed and well fed as we head off into the rain and cold for another day of adventures.

The highlight of Sunday was the Guinness Factory’s Connoisseur Experience, which is a fancier tour than the basic one you get with regular admission.  I highly recommend it.

The views from the 360 bar were amazing. We were buzzing from all of the freshly made beer. We skipped through the streets and found the most amazing pub to hang out in for the rest of the night. We ate, drank and were relaxed. We treated ourselves to a taxi as we sleepily made our way back to the hotel.

I want to go back already.



I took the above picture with my iPhone just after New Years. It was right around the corner from Covent Garden and I was on my way to a shop to purchase a new heart rate monitor to use with my running. The weather was wet but manageable. The streets were cluttered with people given it was a Saturday. I felt pretty good, even bubbly as I winded through the narrow streets on my way to my destination.

Well, today is January 26, 2015. Tomorrow morning, will be my one year anniversary of when I first landed in London, England  to start my new life. Yes. I would say that the year has gone by fast. The enchanting feeling of being here still fascinates me when I turn a new street corner or go on a new adventure within the city. I like that about London. The city never stops amazing you.

During this year I have had an opportunity to meet a LOT of expats in the same field that I work in. Some of them have become great friends and are still around, some of them have mysteriously slipped away from my life as though we have never met. From what I have been able to gather about International Social Workers in the UK is that MANY end up returning home after a short while. I have known some people to have stayed here for 5, 8 and 10 years. I have known some international social workers to have gone home after only 2 months of working in the child welfare “trenches”. What I know about this now is that it all boils down to timing, resilience, having a good manager and a good position. It is literally impossible to control this variable unless you try out the job.

Some of the neighborhoods that I work

Myself, I am still holding on but it isn’t easy. The good thing is that I have become wiser over the past year and I know what I need to do to make things better for myself. I am biding my time and planning my escape future. All jokes aside, social work in the UK is not for the faint of heart. If you plan on coming here hoping that your weekends will consist of misty walks down the Thames and pints of beer at quaint pubs, they will. However, your work-week (location/position dependent) may be difficult. Very difficult. This may have a huge impact on your work-life balance and your “life” outside of work.

What is going really well for me is that I am building a network of friends. I have a wonderful boyfriend that I love very much and that loves me. We are preparing to move into a tiny, tiny flat of our own at the end of the summer but will be “sharing” a room in his crowded flatshare (eek) until the end of summer to allow us to save money and to allow his lease to expire.

Otherwise, some other stuff is going well! I have started running again, something that I have enjoyed immensely since my Track & Field days. I am building my base over the next 4 months in order to start competing next season. I can’t tell you how wonderful running a 10k through beautiful London feels! What a view!

The other thing that is going well is not feeling lonely. London is very hard because you meet people and then you lose touch. Especially if you move on the other side of town. People can be very protective of their friend networks here, and not allow others in. I have been hurt due to being excluded here, because I thought that I had attained a certain level of friendship with some people only to discover that they didn’t feel the same way. But, you can’t let that get you down here, you have to keep working towards finding your army.

My first year in London has been a mix of hard-living and exquisite beauty. Do I want to leave? Sometimes. Really! This city is hard like that. But in reality, I am going to stay. My work is not done year. I love this city too much. Can you believe that I’ve made it this far?

Oh, and thank you for the lovely messages my kind  readers! I am still here, for now.


So, did you think that I would be gone forever? Well, you are pretty damn close. Frankly, blogging has been the last thing that I’ve been able to do given all of the stuff that is going on in my life. So, what is it that is occupying so much of my time? Transiting between work, home and my boyfriend’s house. As efficient as the transit is in this city. I can not begin to express to you how much of your life you will waste traveling between work and home. For me, traveling between my house and work takes approximately 50 minutes, which isn’t bad except for the fact that I am covered in sweat and feel that I have had a work-out trying to navigate the tube and a train. It is seriously like a giant kickboxing match from beginning to end.

I leave the house at approximately 7:45 every morning. I walk 10 minutes to the nearest tube station, and literally have to cram myself into the most packed car that you could ever comprehend smashing yourself into. Then, the sweating begins because you are literally rubbing up next to 50 other people that are also wearing winter coats and (likely) damp, moist wool because it is raining outdoors.

After piling out of the carriage at London Bridge station, one literally needs to Matrix their way through the maze of people that are not paying attention to where they are going. Up… over…. escalators… grab a free newspaper…. swipe Oyster Card….. GO!

Finally. Finally, I make it to my train. This is a rather quiet platform where I can catch my breath and stop sweating in tranquility. Then, my train comes. For the next 25 minutes I sit there as the train chugs its way towards my office in a part of the city that no one has ever really heard of before.

And at 5:30 pm, I get to do it all over again in reverse.

Aside from that insanity, I am now in a relationship with a rather lovely man that lives even further away from my office. A delightful journey of 1.5 hours by transit each way to be exact. On the nights that I spend at his house, the commute is especially difficult. This is further made difficult because I have strapped onto me an overnight bag in addition to my work bag, like a nomad.

Don’t get me wrong, my life is pretty good at the present time, but the commute is killing me!

My advice for those planning on moving to London is that you should try to live close to where you work! Seriously. I pay over £170 in transit costs every month and frankly it is not worth it. The same goes for extracurricular activities. If you think that you will be inclined to checking out that gig that is on the other side of town after commuting an hour from work, think again. Same goes to yoga classes, films and grocery stores. Unless you are really motivated and disciplined, commuting long distances to attend anything will soon be avoided at all costs.

IMG_0270Otherwise dear readers, all has been good. The ‘fantasy’ of living in London has been fading fast for several months. I still love this city, but I don’t feel that I am able to spend time seeing much of it. Same goes for traveling. Haven’t had much time for that given my unfortunate circumstance of having chosen a bit of a flat rental scam to live. Luckily that will all change when I move flat in mid-March. Can’t wait!

I really hope my next flat can be a real place that I can call home. I miss having a kitchen of my own and a place to really settle in. I suppose on the outside, London looks all shiny and special, but living here takes a lot of work and energy.

My new goal is to create balance in my life, including finding a special place to call home, focusing on cutting down my commute to/from work every day and focusing on my my own interests, hobbies and wellness. Oh, and this guy…


Okay ladies. Do you want to know the truth? There are no shortage of men in London. As a matter of fact, as a massive mega-city men from every corner of the world are piled up everywhere. So, if you have moved to this city in order to date and to possibly meet Mr Right, it is your lucky day. You will have endless, ENDLESS dates if you just put in the effort.

So far I am up to four. Since I began dating in the city (four months after I moved over), I have been on dates with four different guys from multiple sides of the world (Australia, Spain, and for some reason, two Irish guys). It is a Pu Pu Platter of endless choices when it comes to dating in London.

It has been overall successful thus far, but I have made a few observations about how dating differs between dating in London and in North America (with the exception of New York because it is also a really big city). First, unless you meet guys through your friends/acquaintances, it is really difficult to really know who you are dating. For example, London is over 600 square miles. It is really difficult to know if who you are dating has another relationship or has another life somewhere in this city. You don’t automatically know what pubs they may frequent, and how they spend their weekends.

When I dated in Toronto, I could tell what someone’s network of friends was simply by knowing where they spent their Friday nights. In London, this is not so easy.

Second, language differences is another issue. Again, there are men living in London coming from every corner of the world. It is intimidating to know that some people speak 2, 3, or five different languages! I dated a guy that was not so fluent in English. At first, it was really fun. Our exchanges were cute and playful. Each time that I was able to “crack the code” of what he was trying to tell me, it was like a rush of energy. A triumph. After six dates, the novelty of our language difference faded (or perhaps it was our chemistry that faded). Whatever. You get the idea.

Third, THERE ARE SO MANY PLACES TO GO ON DATES! London is truly amazing for dating. There is not shortage of galleries, cafes, comedy clubs, and restaurants to have a first date. Seriously, I have never been to the same date location twice since I started dating in London.

Fourth, there is a lot of hope in London dating. There are people arriving and departing every day. So much diversity and uniqueness. There are people doing incredible and magnificent things here. One works for the BBC, the other is an statistician hoping to start a gourmet food truck, and yet another is a wine expert. The possibilities are endless. You can truly meet some inspiring people.

I suppose that with such a fast-paced, transient city, it could be expected that no one ever settles down because they are overwhelmed with dating options. I guess to some extent that can be true. But, I have also learned that men and women alike want to find love in a large city like London because it can be lonely here. At the end of a dark, wet day, after a long and cold commute home, don’t we all want someone and somewhere warm to come home to? My guess that with astronomical housing prices, most Londoners are motivated to find “the one” in order to take the pressure off of their wallet, their heart, and the burden of trying to make it here alone.


When things are going well in London, they are going super well. When they are going a bit shit, well… they are going super shitty. If you haven’t guessed it by now, this post is about the times that this city becomes intolerable.  Today was one of them.

Oh sure, the fog was thick in the air and Big Ben was singing a song in the distance as I crossed the bridge over the Thames. After all, people have been taking pictures of that shit for years, but today, no matter how much beauty I was surrounded by, TODAY JUST SUCKED.

I am going to fill you in on a little myth about moving to London/moving to a country that you always desired to move to in the past. Things will not always be perfect. Despite being in a totally awesome mood 80% of the time, there are going to be occasions where you feel utterly in despair, where you want to throw a tantrum on every street corner. And, no amount of cute/quaint shops and ‘Londonness’ is going to remedy that.

This week was hard. First, I got the flu which kept me away from an insanely busy work-week. Secondly, I was broken up with for the second time that I have been dating the city. What sucked about this time is that me and Mr. Irish (I may as well call him that) were supposed to go on a long-weekend trip to Cambridge, but he changed his mind the day before we were set to leave. Third, I was hired for a job and then the job fell through. This is after I had declined several other amazing offers in the past month. Lastly, my super new, awesome flat is starting to lack luster as well. My flatmate has a new love interest who is spending too much time at the flat.

Yup. My parade has been pissed on badly this week.

After you have lived in London for some time, some of the stuff that used to cheer us right up when we first arrived such as a walk in the park, or a jaunt through a gallery just doesn’t cut it anymore.

I noticed today as I walked through hoards of tourists through Whitehall on my way to  Charing Cross that there was so little of that magic surrounding me. I thought I would cheer myself up and meet a friend at a pub, but first I would walk around the National Gallery and treat myself to a cup of tea and a new book.

By the time I got to the bookstore, I was drenched from head to toe in rain. Despite the super industrial umbrella, leather boots and raincoat, the weather still got the best of me. As I huddled with my paper cup of tea in the Hard-Cover Fiction section of Waterstones, I peered across the street at Trafalgar Square where no less than a trillion tourists struggled to take one-armed photographs while slapping each other on the head with their umbrellas. National Gallery? No thanks. I’ll pass today.

Eventually I ended up in front of Liberty waiting for my friend to arrive. At this point, I was a miserable solid block of ice. I could hear the water sloshing between my cold wet toes and even my supposed rain coat had given up in trying to keep me warm. As I tried to regain my composure so that I wouldn’t be a total kill-joy by the time my friend arrived, I tried again to marvel at my surroundings so that I would remind myself that I am in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.


Just as that happened, a woman crashed into me with her enormous shopping bag and speared me with her umbrella.

Before I moved here I would fixate on photos such as the ones that I posted above. Even in the rain, after a break-up, hell even an apocalypse, I would imagine that London could cure any malaise.

There is that part of becoming an expat that people rarely speak about. It is moment when you realize that London is just not in enough of itself good enough to take away some of your bad days. I am confident that the next time I stand in front of Liberty or have a beer in my favourite pub, I will be overcome with electricity and excitement because my London will be pretty again. Until then, I will try not to force myself to see this city in a certain way.


I passed my six month anniversary in London at the beginning of July. I am doing really well, and this place feels like home. Let me tell you, this city changes you after you’ve lived here for a while. It really does. For me the biggest thing is knowing that I never have to see the same thing twice in this city. It is true for friends, dating, shopping as well as restaurants. You learn to be more flexible about making plans and really begin to focus in on the stuff that really matter (if you are lucky) because in a couple of seconds, it can be gobbled up into this city, never to be seen again.

In June I dated for the first time in this city. He was a nice guy from Spain that had moved to the city in the very same week that I did. For a month we wandered around town and marveled about living in such a fantastic place. I met his friends. It was nice. Now he is gone, and I am totally okay with that. The really surreal thing is that the likelihood of running into him again in London would not be likely because this town is so big!

So, at the end of July I FINALLY moved out of the part of south east London that I really hated. I am now living approximately a 10 minute walk from Big Ben! I really feel like I live in London now! So, some of you will want to know if finding an apartment in London is hard. Well, yes and no. It wasn’t too hard for me because I threw a lot of money at the issue. However, for some with less income, it can be more competitive for the affordable/cool places. I found my flat/flatmate on the first day and moved in 5 days later.

A few things about my past life are now sneaking their way back into my life. For example, I have just started exercising again, which is nice. I am also cooking again because I have a nice CLEAN kitchen that I share with my flatmate who is a lawyer and really great to live with.

As for my time spent in the city. I really like trying out new pubs and restaurants when I meet friends. There is always something new and exciting to try out and each part of town is so different from the next because the vibe can be so completely different. I have also been going to the theater which has been amazing! I saw the production of Skylight with Carey Mulligan on Charing Cross Road. It was amazing! I have also seen the theater production of Let the Right One In. It was also super good.

My faviourite morning that I have spent so far in the city has been the morning after I had moved into my new apartment. I needed to do something random like go to the hardware store. I walked really far to a hardware store all of the way in Holborn! I walked past Big Ben, past the Horse Guards, past Trafalgar Square and then quite a ways longer. The hour long walk seemed to pass by in minutes as I stared up at the buildings, and at all of the tourists as I weaved my way up and down the narrow streets. I never knew that buying nails and a hammer could be such a treat.

IMG_0180I know that I keep saying that I am going to post more often. To be honest, I want to, but I don’t know if I can. Settling into this new city has given me a bit of ADD. It is really difficult to focus on anything for too long. And still, at the end of the day, I am absolutely exhausted. I know that my grandmother wants to see a few of my posts… and I know that I have a few friends checking out my page from time to time.

There is nothing that I regret moving to this city. Nothing. I still have a deep and dark pain in my heart for family and friends that I have left back home. As I write this, I can hear Big Ben chiming in the distance. I can’t believe that I am here. I can’t believe that I am here.


Okay. This city is seriously cool. I can’t get enough out of my weekends. Despite the little ups and downs, this city is really agreeing with me. So, what is new with me? Glad you asked! New job! I know… so soon… But hey, a girl has to do what is right for her and if it means changing to a job that will be less stressful and allow more freedom to adjust to her new country, so be it. I had to do what I had to do.

Otherwise, things are looking okay. After I start this new job (in a month or so) I will begin to search for a flat in a part of town that agrees with me more. I NEED to feel like I am a part of the London that I moved here to see. I feel so far away from it all where I am located now.

Patience goes a long way in this town and so does personal control. One could literally spend each and every day spending money, over-eating, over-drinking or otherwise indulging on some other illicit activity. As much as I have been able to explore the town, I have dad to hold onto my precious coins that I will need to use to move flats and/or spend on a new work visa. Seriously though, it is really hard when friends are PLEADING with you to go to events, meals or shopping at any given time.

Last weekend was a good example of my difficulty with abstaining from social “stuff”. I went on a tour of a derelict tube station (Aldwych) last weekend, and it was super fun. It has been disused for some time, and the transport museum runs tours of it every so often.

Nowadays the station is pretty much used for films and television shows. For example, V for Vendetta was filmed here, as was some scenes from the show Sherlock, and also the series Selfridges. I highly recommend this tour. It is always nice to see the castles, the expensive department stores and the posher side of London, but sometimes it is the mundane history of this city that can really provoke your emotions.

It was really fun exploring a random part of London’s history. Following the tour we wandered around the local area (around the corner really) to see if we could take a peek at the Roman Baths.

It was raining quite heavily as we tried to find our way. By the way, if you are coming to London for a visit anytime between mid-May and August… bring a cap if you are at all interested in maintaining a nice hairstyle. London has these itsy bitsy tiny raindrops that don’t warrant the use of an umbrella, BUT will soak you to the bones without even noticing…. just a tip.

Okay, back to the Roman Baths…

I had just enough time to snap this photo before getting kicked out by the security guard. Anyhow, after this little tour of London history, there was some wandering around and a cheap lunch at Pret before heading home. I made the absolute coolest realization as we endeavored to get back home. There is a bus that pretty much drops me at my front door that passes by some of the biggest tourist highlights of the city. At that moment as I watched the tourists snapping photos and soaking in the London air next to various attractions, I realized that I live here and that I was on my way home.




Oh, I have been busy… Busy, busy busy. Aside from the fact that work is sucking the life out of me (time for a job change I think), the quality of my weekends are nothing short of spectacular most of the time. I have been in London for a total of 4 months tomorrow! I am at the point now where I know exactly (sort of) where I am going on the tube and buses where I don’t need a map. I can go to the grocery store without freaking out. As well, I can pass by Harrods (see behind me) without needing to go in just to look around.

Today was an exciting day. It is a Bank Holiday Monday so I decided to go spend the day at the V&A and then grab some lunch at Wasabi before heading home. The V&A was an epic fail because there was a queue around the block of people just wanting to get in. In a huff I went to Wasabi for lunch to figure out a new game plan. I ended up at Sloane Square, grabbed tea and decided to do a little shop therapy at MUJI. I ended up back home by 3pm, exhausted but content from my day of wandering in the city.

Life is by no means perfect right now, but I am working my butt of to change the things that I can. First off, I absolutely loathe the part of town that I live in. I hate it. I need to relocate to a place that is North of the river, preferably in the west. Moreover, there is the issue of my job. I don’t want to go into too many details but working a thousand hours a week is not helping my well-being. Not one bit. I am in the process of changing my job. The nice thing is that I have choices. I am fortunate to be living in a place where 1) Change is possible 2) There is room for flexibility/new job options. London is a big city that takes some time to warm up to. If you give it some time, and let the daily troubles and imperfections roll off of you, life will be good.

On to another topic. Guernsey! I went to the beautiful island of Guernsey to visit my lovely friend J. Just short of a one-hour flight from London Gatwick, the place is truly magical. After working a thousand hours on the week prior to Guernsey, I wasn’t in the best shape as I stumbled into the airport at 8am on a Saturday morning.


I can’t believe the amount of time off that I get off of work in this country. But then again, given that I work 10-12 hour days on most days, and my caseload is out of control, I think that having a few extra days off per month is well deserved. I really liked that I got both Friday and Monday off for Easter holiday. I really needed the days off and the time to just go and do whatever.

I am still in tourist mode which means that I still have a lot of things that I want to tick off of my list. I must admit though… After three months of being here and soaking up all of the history and whatnot, being sandwiched into a building every weekend with tourists is beginning to weigh on me a bit. I guess as well that I feel envious of them. I want to feel the wonderment that I used to enjoy London with when I would come here on holiday. I miss having nothing to do but attend gallery exhibits and museums without nothing else occupying my mind because I would be “on vacation”.

Now, when I go anywhere in England (museum, restaurant or gallery) I still have real life to worry about because I actually live locally. I think about the laundry that I forgot to put in the dryer. I think about that deadline that I have for work. I think about whether or not the grocery store will still be open by the time I get back home.

I am seriously jealous of tourists.

With that said, this past Easter weekend was nice. On Friday, I managed to get to Hampton Court Palace which was awesome. Although a bit of a trek, it is quite accessible by London transit.

Also connected by London transport is lovely Kingston Upon Thames, which is not far from Hampton Court Palace. Although small and quaint, Kingston Upon Thames has some of the best areas for shopping and also good dining.

After some shopping, we wandered over to Hampton Court to tour the castle and wander the grounds. Sadly, it became increasingly chilly throughout the day so we decided to tour the gardens on another day.

If you live locally or have an interest in visiting all of the historic Royal Palaces, I would recommend that you purchase a joint membership which will get you into all five of the palaces for the reasonable price of about £67 per year. As well, being able to bypass long line-ups is quite convenient too.

Saturday I wanted a different vibe. I wanted to be around street food, colour and excitement. After a long slumber, I hit the streets and headed to Camden Town for a wander.

I almost regretted my choice because  it appeared that everyone else in London wanted to do the same thing. It was absolutely rammed packed. But, do you know what? I loved it! I know that I didn’t want to spend my money in Camden Town because a lot of the shops sold novelty t-shirts and a bunch of stuff that I really didn’t want to buy. So, I treated myself to a pedicure (sort of). These fish actually eat the dead skin off of your feet. For £5, you get 15 minutes with these little guys.

I’ve got to admit. The experience was totally revolting. I doubt that any of it was hygienic, given about a million of people plunge their feet into the same water every day… Though my feet did feel spectacularly smooth afterwards .

After I had my fun in Camden, I walked all the way to Covent Garden to grab some food and to do a bit more shopping. The walk there was the best. I passed by Bloomsbury Street (the setting of my favourite book about London The Dutchess of Bloomsbury Street). Realizing that I had not eaten all day, I made a pit stop at Wagamama, a pan Asian sit down fast food joint, because I wasn’t inspired to eat anything epically awesome.

If you are ever in London and in a pinch because you need food fast, this is the place to go. It is a bit pricey (between 10£-12£ per meal) you will get food that is fresh and dependable. The duck gyoza are really good.

After Wagamama, I headed off to Covent Garden and made a big shopping splurge at The Cambridge Satchel Company for a new leather bag (that I got monogrammed with my initials).

After all of that, I was exhausted. After an expensive purchase, lunch and the excursions of the day before, I figured that the best thing for me to do was to head home. Because the first two of my four day weekend were spent out, I was perfectly pleased to spend Easter Sunday and Monday hanging around the house, doing chores.

Tomorrow I am back at work. Although I like my job, I am not looking forward to the intense work week ahead. London can be such an intoxicating city. It can be quite difficult to snap out of lifestyle and the wandering around time after a long weekend. The London that I see during the work week is so different than the London that I see during the weekends… But, I am so grateful to be here. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My three month anniversary of moving to London is quickly approaching (in just six days). It is incredible to think that this is just the beginning of my London journey. I can’t believe that it has just started. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.


By the end of a long week of work consisting of hanging out in the business of South East London , I crave getting away to the countryside where the air is super clean and the air smells like earth and green.

Fortunately for me, I have access to getting around by car quite easily, so a quick jaunt to Surrey was super thing to do on a Sunday from London. Although Surrey is super huge, you can get there from London in just under an hour. However, if you want the epic  view of Surrey such as what was featured in the Hollywood film ‘The Holiday’, you are going to have to travel into Surrey an additional hour.

Our day trip to Surrey started at around 9am. After a sleep in, we showered, grabbed a few pastry and a thermos of tea, and jumped into the car. It was spitting rain and the air had a chill, but we didn’t care. We shoved a pile of extra layers of clothing into the back seat of the car. My wellies were a must.

By noon we were absolutely famished, so we stopped at a country pub and had a meal. My flatmate had a Sunday roast, whereas I had a risotto and a glass of white wine. After our meal, we figured out that we were a short distance away from Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. Okay, fine, Hever Castle is technically not in Surrey. It is in Kent. But, we wove our way in and out of Surrey throughout the day. Isn’t it beautiful just the same?

When we got to Hever Castle we noticed that it cost £15 to get in. We really didn’t want to commit to a £15 afternoon a piece, so we decided to continue driving around the countryside and snap photos. This of course was totally free. Besides, the sheep didn’t mind.

I can’t tell you how peaceful it is to spend time in the English countryside. It was like one awesome cliché after another. The thatched roofs on the little cottages were the best. I think that I want to book a bed and breakfast in Surrey on a long weekend at some point in the near future. I think that a good 4-5 days of hanging out in the countryside would do my brain some good.

By 4pm we were back home in London. Relaxed, a bit tired and cold. We put on a pot of tea. I jumped into my sweatpants and got a digestive biscuit out of the cupboard before sinking onto the sofa to reflect on my day and England. I sipped my tea and chomped on my digestive. As tough as London can be, nothing can replace of how much fuller and enhanced my life has become. I am home. I AM HOME.



I’ve been getting a pile of emails from people asking me to write about what Social Work is like in London. However, given I have only been here for two months, I don’t feel that I have a comprehensive overview of what it is truly like in the eyes of someone (a North American) that has been here for 2, 4 or 8 years. Lucky for me, I have a good bunch of friends that are social workers in the UK that are there to give me ongoing support as I encounter new challenges within my work, and walls of despair. Yes. I said despair. Please allow me to explain.

By the way, the photograph (above) is of the Black Frier Pub. I chose it not only because I enjoy a good drink, but because I met with three social work friends yesterday that provided me encouragement and insight into what I can expect in the coming months and years as I progress in the field as a UK social worker.

I may have mentioned a bunch of posts back that I didn’t want this blog to focus on Social Work any longer. I feel that this is necessary because Social Work in the UK is not regarded as the heroic and esteemed profession that it is known as in the USA or Canada. In the UK, people actually “hide” their identities as social workers because in this country, they are regarded as baby snatchers and as people that destroy families. It is sad. Really sad.

In comparison, back home, the organizations that I worked at would have signs all over the place that would state that there was a zero tolerance for assaulting and abusing Social Work staff. Over here, there is no such policy. Get prepared to be insulted by schools, police and medical professionals. For some reason, if a child is harmed or if there is concern for the safeguarding of a child, it is the job of the social worker (and not of other professionals) to assure that the child remains safe. If somethings DOES go wrong, it is always the social worker’s fault… not the midwife, not the physician, not the nurse, not the teacher.

I have been called a dirty slag no less than twice since beginning this role.

One of the largest differences that I have observed as a social worker in the UK in comparison to in North America, is that there are few, very few jobs in which an advanced/senior social worker can be employed as a therapist in a school or in a hospital. The majority of roles remain within statutory social work, in Children’s Services.

Okay, woah. I sound really angry and disheartened by Social Work in the UK. Don’t I? Well, it’s really not as bad as I make it sound. Over all, I can give a much longer rant about Social Work in Canada if giver the opportunity.

The most amazing part about Social Work in the UK is that there are jobs. There are jobs galore. If you are lucky to get a position here, you will never have to ever worry again that your contract is ending or if you will ever get that promotion. The sky is virtually the limit. One of the hardest things that I have had to wrap my head around since arriving here is that the job that I have now is not the position that I will be in next year. There is a lot more movement between roles and I find that it is highly encouraged by management to explore new opportunities within your local authority.

As far as advice goes, I feel that having an opened mind will be very beneficial to you if you do decide to give Social Work in the UK a try. I can tell you this straight out, your life as a social worker (at least in London) will not resemble the film Love Actually in any way, shape and form. Your position will likely involve many home visits, riding around on buses that smell like urine, sweat and gum disease, and you will be dressed accordingly… especially at the beginning. But, overtime you will learn the life hacks that are necessary to survive this mammoth city. You will settle into a position that suits your lifestyle, you will learn how to drive on the opposite side of the street and things will get easier. It depends what you are looking for.

At the moment, I am at the phase where I am frustrated. I am working an insane amount of hours and I am not socializing and experiencing the side of London that I came here to see.  I am slowly carving out a career progression that would work better for my lifestyle. I have to be patient but also focused as I try to obtain it. It feels good because there is something to progress to over here.

Since being here, I have done a pile of traveling within London and have also started exploring other parts of England. I am planning some holidays in other countries and am also getting exposed to new and exciting things every day.

The fact is, I love it here (despite this city being incredibly harsh and lonely at times). Work is incredibly difficult but also rewarding.

If you are thinking that Social Work in the UK is for you, do your research. Seriously. Do your research. First learn the credential assessment process, the visa process and (if you can) try to learn as much about the local area that you are interested in working in. Once you get here, don’t be disappointed that you don’t have the ideal flat, job or lifestyle in comparison to what you were hoping to get off of the plane. Take it day by day and be open to learning opportunities. Slowly, you will begin to get some of the things that you came here to find.

The policies are different, the clients are different and the procedures are different. Some of your colleagues will be really, really good at the job, whereas others will be really, really bad at the job. Just like back home.


My Canterbury Tale

So, part of moving to England for me has been actually getting around and seeing England. I really like the country so far. It really does have all of that “cool stuff” that I wanted to move down here to see, such as the wooly sheep, the rolling hills, the large metropolitan city as well as the quaint narrow streets.

BUT. Big but. I hardly see that side of this beautiful country because I am living in a part of London that lacks (to a great extent) the charm that I moved to this country to see. I have to remind myself around Thursday evening that there are things worthy of leaving my flat on the weekend for aside from, well, the darker side of this great city. Lets leave it at that.

This weekend, I needed to leave the noise and the hustle. This weekend was for Canterbury! Oh what a treat is was. It is a compact little town but with a lot to offer. From London, it only took us an hour by car. The drive was pretty awesome because there were a lot of rolling hills and sheep to look at.

The town itself was lovely, although I find that there were too many shops that you could find on Oxford Street. Frankly, too many. Lots of little museums and historic sites to pop into. I think that it was the perfect place to just wander around.

The Canterbury Cathedral was certainly the highlight of the entire trip. It is totally worth the £9 per person to go. The building itself was ginormous. I regret not paying for the audio tour.

cathedral2So. What else I have been up to aside from touring my beloved England. Work. Lots of it. I work about a thousand hours a day… and frankly, I was not expecting it to be so “bad”. I think that I have also hit that part of expat life where the city is weighting on me a bit. Probably because I am not able to do all of that awesome stuff that I came here to do as frequently as I would like, or perhaps because I am totally exhausted all of the time. I am not sure really. However, my 2 month anniversary in the UK is quickly approaching (in about 5 days).

I’ve gotten a bunch of requests via email mostly and also on the blog itself about what Social Work is like in the UK. Obviously, two months in does not make me an expert, but I will dedicate my next post to what my impressions are about SW from the perspective of a North American. Moving forward, I feel that I will be spending a lot less time talking about Social Work on this blog because, well I do it all week long, and the last think I feel like doing during my weekend is talk about SW. I will try to write something helpful and insightful. That I can promise.

Otherwise, life is okay. Had (and still experiencing) my first bouts of homesickness. I am also feeling my first run of expat fatigue… which is that thing that happens after the “romance” of a city dies several months after you move to it. More on that another time as well.



A few Sundays ago, my flatmate and I felt restless. We both wanted to get outdoors for a bit, but we didn’t want to hit anything loud and touristy. It was raining and super windy, so he thought that it would be a good idea for us to take the car.

We assembled some bacon and cheese sandwiches on freshly made bread. We also grabbed some tea and biscuits and then piled ourselves in the car.

We were going to Hall Palace and Gardens, just outside of London in Kent. Visiting an old English country home was exactly the experience that I wanted that day. After all, the weather was perfect.

One of the best parts about this place was the wildlife! They actually had a butterfly sanctuary and an owl exhibit. We actually got a chance to learn about all the different types of owls and even got to hold some of them!

The Tudor house was really beautiful, even if it was quite bare. It was super quiet and you could almost imagine what it was like to wander through it on a similarly rainy and cold day several hundred years ago. I was secretly hoping that Jonathan Rhys Meyers would suddenly walk through the room and sweep me off of my feet.

I don’t think that this place is a top tourist destination. However, it is a wonderful place for locals to visit and a great place to bring out of town guests. If I lived close by, this is the sort of place that I would go to wander and to spent some alone time with myself. Oh yes, it had the most spectacular gardening centre too. Makes me with that I had an English country home… Hmmm….


On Friday I had completed by first two weeks at work. I was exhausted, brain-fried, happy, and just needed to stick around home for the weekend. I was looking for a ‘typically average’ weekend after a week of work. Terribly boring and domestic. Friday night involved me going to bed early. YAY!

Saturday involved me catching up on some boring shopping at a very North American office supply shop (Staples), a dollar store (called POUNDLAND  over here), and some very uneventful grocery shopping (snore). The thing is, that since moving over here, everything has been super cool and awesome, I have really been craving some boring/slightly underwhelming activities to occupy my free time. A weekend of domesticated errands should certainly set me straight.

However, Sunday changed everything. When I woke up on Sunday., the sun was shining and not a drop of rain was supposed to land on that day. The air was warm and there was just a tiny breeze in the air. I HAD to be outdoors.

Luckily my flatmate felt the same way so we put on our jackets and hit the outdoors.

We wandered through Greenwich which was jam packed with tourists as we made our way to the ferry into central London. You can kind of see the outline of the CUTTY SARK just to the right of the photo.

towerbridge1Greenwich is such a beautiful part of London that so few people ever venture out to see. It is just 10-15 minutes on the tube into the center of the city!

Given that it was such a bright and clear day, there was no other place that would be suitable than to tour the INSIDE of Tower Bridge. So, we took the ferry over to Tower Bridge from Greenwich. We were greeted by THE TOWER OF LONDON as soon as we docked. My first time seeing it in over 3 years! What a sight!

It was absolutely perfect. Just as I remembered it. Even though it is a series of buildings, from different periods in history, I can’t believe that some of it is over a thousand years old and still standing. I just find that incredible.

Anyhow, we continued along about a hundred meters along the Thames, and our destination finally came into sight. Tower Bridge. Did you know that you can actually take a tour of Tower Bridge from the inside? It’s true. you can actually walk along the inside of the beam that is wedged between both towers,,. I must say that it was very cool. However, I feel that the videos that they showed as part of the TOUR were somewhat lacking and outdated. Sorry. Despite this, for 8 quid, it is totally worth it.

I must say that my favourite part of the day was when Tower Bridge actually opened up to let a little boat through. It was really quite exciting. I never thought that I would ever get a chance to see it for myself.

By the time that the tour was done and managed to get back home, it was around 4pm. Just enough time to rest up before dinner, prepare my stuff for work the next day and chill out before bedtime.

I must say that I like the pace of life here much better than it was back home. Even though it is soggy and chilly most of the time, it helps you to appreciate how much of a treat that this city is on nearly perfect weather days. Many people don’t throw them away. They abandon their housework and their television sets and hit the park, streets and city!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 126 other followers

%d bloggers like this: