A Scottish Girl’s Guide to Entertaining in London.

If you are anything like me the idea of having to play host makes you feel a little queasy. I have never been good at planning special little events for guest… even in London, a place where there is always something to do.

So, as I have now waved off both friends onto their next adventures, I felt it would be safe to share a few of my “entertaining in London” secrets with you all. Just in case you find yourselves in the same predicament as I did where sitting in the dark watching endless episode of American Dad will no longer hack it.

Hosting (Accidental Style)

Arrive late:

To really kick off friend number one’s visit start as you mean to go on by arriving at the bus station half an hour late and sweaty (you got lost, confused and angry on the way, turns out you don’t know London as well as you thought).  Friends will really appreciate the early morning standing around experience. Plus they can watch all the London buses and get used to cars being on the wrong side of the road – my lateness benefited them really.

Speed River Walk and Lunch:

Drag friend one out into the sunshine with a vague plan of what to do with them. Randomly decide the Thames is nice so sprint past all the boring buildings – Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the whole of Waterloo/South Bank on the way to the Thames beaches. Spout useless information and made up facts as you go –  you’re not sure but you think it has a tide and yes the plague is still living in the water. Arrive at St Paul’s and wander aimlessly around the outside pretending you know how to get home from here, try your best to make up excuses not to go in (that cost £20pp!!!!). Choose a random direction and end up in Leister Square – spend £20 on two coffees and a sandwich in super nice hipster cafe- lie about the exchange rate and pretend that is a normal price…. Die inside….

Ditch:

I’m a firm believer in independence, so upon arriving at Chez Lulu one is given a vague, whirlwind training about how to make your way home using the landmarks on the horizon – they line up I swear. This is accompanied with a brief disclaimer about if you get lost on the opposite side of said landmarks it’s your own fault. This was all friend one got before I legged it out the door to work, leaving him to wander around alone and hope they made it back before I finished work.

 

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“Just turn right on the street with the fuzzy trees…”

 

An unexpected day off on day two suddenly meant that I had to put effort into thinking of something exciting to do.

Museum:

I opted for the time-old saviour of Parents, teachers and crappy hosts alike by taking friend one to the Natural History Museum (this was mainly selfish as I wanted to check on my Dino friends and the giant sloth… it’s been a while). I was in luck, friend one had this on the list of things to do in London and so was delighted to be carted off unceremoniously to the building full of dead things.

 

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My saviour in times of desperation.

 

Ditch Again (that’s ultimate hosting):

As you drift peacefully around the stuffed pelicans and bits of rock you suddenly realise that friend number two is due to arrive in fifteen minutes and you are a good half an hour from the station. Abandon friend one to do the second floor of the museum alone (they’ll be fiiiiiine!). Remember as you leg it through the underground that friend one is an idiot who did not take their phone with them. Collect friend two and make them take an hour bus journey on the hottest bus in the world through rush hour traffic because you couldn’t be bothered with the 10-minute tube journey (never admit this to them). Ply friend two with tea and cake. Two hours later begin to panic about friend one who has still not returned. Plan elaborate rescue missions then remember you’re an idiot and couldn’t even find you’re way out of the museum earlier. Try and keep agitated pacing to a minimum in front of friend two as you battle with the guilt of ditching friend one. Trick yourself into believing that it will just add to their adventure in London.

 

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The dodo will watch over your friend. 

 

Embrace the British:

Once friend one has reappeared and forgiven you, drag both off to the park equipped with beers to experience the true British summer time. Sit amongst the stoners and fitness freaks in Battersea Park. Once all beer has been consumed drag everyone out for late night fish and chips, panic when you realise you know of nowhere to sit –  friend two is strangely averted  to walking the ten minute back home to eat there….. end up sitting on the benches in front of the British Passport Office shoving battered fish into your face (this counts as cultural right?). After completing your tour of British cuisine suddenly realise your friends are demanding a bar…. remember area you live in is made for old people and there are only old man pubs. Throw a mini tantrum and force them into a rubbish pub at closing time as neither friend will cooperate or get the tube to somewhere more interesting. Return home and sit on the roof with a bottle of rum and your amazing flatmate as compensation for the crappy nightlife in the area.

 

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Debut you’re beutiful gardening skills. 

 

 

Wave them off in style:

Both friends were leaving at different times on the same day. Friend two at six in morning, friend two in the evening – guess which one I hate the most now….! As I dragged myself out of bed and tried to make my drunken legs cooperate on the seventy-five million stairs my house is made up of I was cursing friends two’s name.

As we approached the bus station it turned out friend two had not remembered to buy a ticket (damn non-Londoners!) and there was a panic standing in the queue as he tried to force PayPal to work, whilst still being pretty smashed. With friend two safely off to his next destination, friend one and I crawled our way home via Gregs for bacon rolls and doughnuts (standing outside waiting for Greg’s to open on a Saturday morning was an experience).

Picnic:

As I was now out of ideas  (and energy and fucks to give) I opted for the easy way out of entertaining by suggesting a true British Picnic in the Park. We stocked up on all the M&S tapas collection and juice we could carry before waddling our way to Green Park. Here we stayed in the blissful sunshine. The smugness of knowing I had entertained everyone during their visit by just feeding them in different locations or getting them drunk, washed over me. A little part of me hoped it would rain on our picnic so that the experience of summer in the U.K. would be complete.

 

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Memoirs from a different picnic… was too busy eating for photos.

 

Wave them off in Style (Revisited):

Once you have completed the picnic, walk slowly back home (it’s impossible to walk too fast after feasting on hummus and ham) via the pub for Pimms as a last minute “this is British summer time” experience. Suddenly realise friend one is just as unorganised as friend two and have a last minute panic pack session before sprinting to the coach station where the angry bus people scream at you and complain about there being no time (I don’t understand why they are so angry… is it the fluorescent jackets?!?). Wave off friends unceremoniously as they hurl themselves onto the coach.

Exhaustion:

Crawl your way back home and dive under the bed covers to sleep for a hundred years, satisfied in the knowledge that you no longer need to offer others cups of tea. Operation entertain guests complete.

As you regress back to watching American Dad tell yourself that it doesn’t matter if they enjoyed themselves or not…. At least no-one died.

 

 

I hope you have found this guide useful, I’d love to hear about some of the tricks you guys use when you have to entertain guests. Feel free to comment and share below. Happy entertaining. 

Country Living

Although it’s lovely coming back home and seeing the family there is always the small issue of the countryside. I love the countryside… don’t get me wrong: hills, grass, trees, animals, mud …….DUNG…..

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Lovingly tending his poop crop.

 

That’s the main one. The main feature of those rolling hills that surround our house. Poo is everywhere especially when home comes with two, rather over friendly (otherwise known as rude), collie dogs, each with a penchant for poop. They find it anywhere and they don’t really care what origin it is.  After a feast they will wait till you least expect it then sneak up to you…. Snuggle in….and BAM!! They stick their big sloopy tongue right in your mouth.

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Maybe if I feel them flowers they won’t smell so bad…?

Unfortunately, I chose to visit during lambing time which is down in the doggy calendar for its seasonal, always grizzly, delicacies … suffice to say I’m only going to wear a turtle neck pulled up to my ears for the rest of my visit.

All I can say is at least they eat local.

 

Life in the City

Those days when you wake up to the sun streaming through your window, check your phone and instantly descend into a chest contracting, stomach flipping fit of panic. Those days are definitely a sure sign that you are back to grown up life.

As your head is sinking into despair from the knowledge that you are over an hour late for work the world seems bleak. Thoughts race through your mind. Should you call them? Let them know you’re not dead? Would they care? Maybe you should be dead,,, that way you wouldn’t have to live with the embarrassment of scuttling in so late. How could you have slept so long? Why didn’t your alarm go off? Maybe it’s broken? Maybe you’re sick? Yup… you’re definitely sick…! Maybe you are dying…. is that good?

 

As I prepared myself mentally and emotionally for the call I was going to have to make it suddenly dawned on me how much of a fool I am. It was five in the morning not five in the afternoon…! I wasn’t late and I wasn’t dying. I didn’t have to buy a new phone and I wasn’t going to be shamed for arriving at work late (ironically this happened a few days later when I read the rota wrong…. ).

 

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The culprit of my wake up call… the sunshine.

 

In those first few moments of my day, I had experienced far too many emotions to be considered good for one’s health. As the palpitations subsided and I regained rational thought I  gave myself a serious talking to and vowed to buy curtains as soon as possible.

Welcome back to London living.

My Mother and the Pineapple

Everyone, upon returning from an adventure, has that moment of true realisation that they are once again home and no longer swanning around doing what they like. I feel however that my moment of ‘awakening’ was a little different from that of others.

The dogs had begun their afternoon whinge for a walk protest and so my mum and I had headed off, somewhat reluctantly, to “stretch their doggy paws” (that is my mother’s term, not mine…) and make ourselves feel like we had done a “good deed for the day” (also my mother – I think she should get out more…). As we stomped our way solemnly up and down the various surrounding hills I was vaguely listening to the tales my mum had about what had been happening in the valley while I was away – including her explanations about where frogspawn comes from. I was so engrossed in timing my “I’m listening noises” that I almost missed the story that brought me back to the real world and to the realisation that I am toughly back home.

What caught my interest was that she was practically hopping up and down with excitement and kept saying things like: “Well it was probably just a storm in a tea cup but ooooh….” and “It was ever so exciting…”. She had me intrigued so – after puffing herself up with pride in order to embark this great tale of woe in which she felt she played a crucial role – she started her story.

As far as I can understand the main characters are a bench, a cross bow, an elderly couple, my mother, a Yam and a pineapple…

I couldn’t wait to hear how this would unfold… unfortunately, I’d forgotten we live in a tiny village… in the middle of nowhere…. Where nothing ever happens….

From what I can gather my mum went on a walk one day and found that someone had moved the bench. Mummy Sherlock didn’t like this so decided to investigate only to find that the culprit had left behind a yam and a pineapple. Thoroughly perturbed she grumbles her way home in order to inform my dad of these strange goings on… he’ll look later…

 

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The scene of a crime most foul!

 

The next day an anxious elderly couple knock on the door to say that there have been some strange goings on in the wood. Someone had shot the unsuspecting bench at the top of the hill with a crossbow and the villain in question had left the arrow right so deeply embedded in the wood that no one could remove it. The police were called and my mum assists them in their search…

This was where her story ended… they never solved it and I believe mum was a little disappointed when all I wanted to know was why was there a Pineapple. Apparently, this was the wrong response.

A Scottish Girls guide to your last day in Paradise.

There are not many thing I do well but making friends with incredible people definitely is one of my strengths. It was a rather spiffing group of people who made my last day in Mauritius so special. So, I thought this guide would offer some ideas for anyone wondering how to make the most of their last day on the Island of Paradise.

1 – Meet some awesome people.

My day would not have been the same if it wasn’t for those I spent it with. People who managed to put up with my shoddy planning and lack of communication and still turn up where they were meant to be and with a whopping amount of food.

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2- Start the day with a Dive.

Make the most of your last day by doing something you love. I used the first hours of my morning on a dive in the beautiful seas of Flic en Flac, surrounded by friends and fish a like.

3 – Cram

Being in the awkward position of appearing as a calm collected person on the outside but really being a totally dozy bastard on the inside means that nothing adds to a relaxing day more than a frantic dash to the shops to try and collect last minute gifts for those people you forgot only to be distracted by earrings and shiny things and once again forgetting those gifts –  to my brothers I am sorry….

4 – Eat

Make the most of any food you can. I managed to plan my departure to coincide with a birthday party at the dive centre so scored myself some delicious birthday cheese cake and brownies.

5 – R & R

Here is where choosing your friends wisely comes in. Take your bestest and whisk her away to a day spa nestled in the mountains of Tamarin. Even when you live with someone it is possible to not see them enough so savour that moment with your significantly platonic other as you like naked next to each other while being massaged by angels. (TIP: try and avoid eye contact with each other)

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6 – Who needs planning?

Hitch hike back home after your massage because you forgot to book a taxi and your friends are waiting on the beach for you.

 

7 – BBQ on the beach

If you have read this blog before you will be aware of my obsession with a good beach BBQ. Collect the nearest and dearest, as much food and drink as possible, arrive and hour late and covered in oil to spend happy hours in the sand.

*It may have been an idea to wash off the massage oil as sand and coconut yulang yalang with a hint of sausage are a strange mix.

8 – Chill.

Head to the Kenzie bar where every Friday night is Reggae night. Dance like a loon, sing like a tit and laugh like a prat. Hug your best friends and pretend not to cry. Then walk home solo and sweaty after a final round of goodbyes. Remember to gaze at the stars as you go.

9 –  Panic Pack

Realise you have not  carried out your routine ‘safety pack’, empty your bag only to realise that now you cannot get everything in again. Queue mental break down followed by realisation you have packed your passport somewhere…. You cant remember where…

10 – Be responsible

Unlike so many of those who have left before me I decided to be a grown up and not say out all night but instead retire gracefully to my home to chill out (do not refer to number 9.) What I needed was a nice sleep and then I would be all ready, I would wake up at 3.15 have a delightful shower and rinse off the oil from my time at the spa…. Instead I sit on the plane now with my hair plastered to my head with oil and a super shiny face…. If you want to make your day of relaxation really last I suggest waking up 8 minutes before your taxi arrives with a half packed bag, oily hair and absolutely no clue where your passport is.

To all those heading towards their last day on the island I hope this has helped… whether you choose to follow this advice or perhaps opt for the more serine/organised approach I wish you a very happy last day and a safe onward journey.

Got the London Look

Five sunsets, four different countries, a million hours spent on Flexibus and a sudden 5 am panic about where the fuck I put my oyster card later and I find myself back in London. With multiple bags of crap and a mind so fuzzy I couldn’t remember my way home, I stumbled off the bus after a twelve hour journey from Holland to be greeted by a beautiful London in the midst of Easter celebrations.

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Watching my talented baby brother proved the perfect cure for adventure blues.

After a night out in Kilburn the traveller’s fug has shifted, with the help of tequila and live music, from weepy exhaustion to a twitchy itchy feet syndrome- an old friend of all who return home after an expedition. Sitting in bed, surrounded by all the treasures I’ve found, I eat my 50p loaf of bread whilst staring lazily at my back pack and wonder whether to unpack or would it be less effort to just keep travelling.

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Where does it all go?!?!

Do I really need to stop already?

 

End of Chapter

So, the time has come to leave the island I have lived on for three months. I dealt with this in a true British fashion – the way we deal with death, disaster or the fear of tea served the “American” way – by getting on with the task in hand. There was no time for crying or soppy goodbyes, not to say I didn’t make the most of my last days, but the art of denial comes naturally especially why you completely ignore what is coming. It wasn’t until I sat in my seat, 22A and had time to look around that I realised that it was over. This chapter of the story has finished, suddenly the tears came and the sadness I had tried so hard to keep at bay hit me full force in the chest like a falling coconut thrown by a cyclone. Boom! On to the next adventure. Let’s not say goodbye Mauritius but rather TTFN, you truly are a paradise island. Thanks for it all!

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