5 reasons why…I’ve warmed up to the idea of swimming
I have no shame in my weak ability to swim. The UK has never struck me as a place where it’s an absolute necessity – and to be perfectly honest with you, I used to think that if the sea levels started rising at an alarming rate, then I could hitch a ride on a Royal Navy warship and hope that my negative bouyancy would not work against me at such a drastic hour. Seriously.
Saying that, I’ve changed my attitude to swimming and aspired to become one of those ballerina types who can Migraine Skank underwater. Here’s why:
1) Free swimming lessons. Yep, you read correctly. If you’ve been visiting this blog long enough then you’ll know about my Free-dar (if it’s free, I’m THEY-ARE lol), so you can imagine my joy in learning that a new scheme is offering free swimming lessons to adult novices like moi across 40 pools in London. Enjoy.
2) Swimming with the dolphins. I’ve decided I want to try this but I refuse to drown in the process.
3) To defy the theory that “black women don’t swim because of their hair”. Yes, growing up, many of us were vehemently taught that under no circumstances should you get your hair wet unless you wanted to DIE (note: death was a beating at 9-years-old), because too much time and money went into making it look good and those swimming caps didn’t really work. Well, I’m a grown woman now and I don’t perm my hair, so me and shrinkage are good.
4) Voguing on beach. I will be chilling on one at some point this year, and I’m telling you, swimming will tone you up RIGHT. I’m not exposing an inch of flab this year, amen!
5) Swimming outdoors. London is getting kind of warm so if you opt for outdoor swimming pools/lidos (I reckon they’ll be fairly popular this year) you are gonna have to hold your own out there. I pity the dear who tries to blend in and can’t even breaststroke, tut, tut. Better you style that out in indoors :-)
10:00 am • 23 April 2010 • 2 notes
5 reasons why…Nandos should be recognised as a cultural institution
When I first landed in London 10 years ago, my friends used to RAVE about Nandos so much, I suspected their chicken might be laced with crack. For the unacquainted, it’s a chain of Portuguese inspired restaurants which has become so popular across the country, I think it needs to honoured in the highest of fashions for it’s services to British culture. Here’s why:
1) The loyalty card. I don’t know about you, but there’s been times when I can’t be bothered to cook, and then it hits me – I’m owed a free quarter/half/whole chicken on my loyalty card! Hello somebody! And I feel no way about using it – I’ll whip that out at lunch meetings, dates, whatever. There’s just something about free chicken that feels so good.
2) The convenience. If you’re ever in those situations where you’re stuck for something to eat for dinner, who you gonna call? You guessed it. (And the day they start delivering is the day I pledge to let myself go. Two sets of lunges or or a quarter chicken breast, extra hot, regular spicy rice and a coleslaw at my doorstep? I know what I’m choosing.)
3) The education. Raise your hands if you knew what Peri-Peri was before Nandos? I don’t believe you and if you’re Mozambican/Angolan/Portuguese, I see you. But I’m of the firm opinion that Nandos has led the Peri-Peri evolution in this country to factor in everywhere from KFC to ready spices in Sainsburys. Now that’s influence!
4) They’ve seriously stepped their game up. Once upon the time, Nandos just looked dumb. That cock motif was way too kindergarten and eating in sort of felt like a fast food joint without the funny smells. And although the icon is still there, the interiors are looking cute; we’ve got wood panelling, moody lighting, candles - and a comprehensive menu that can offer a pretty decent three-course meal. Round of applause.
5) The price. I’ll dabble in fine dining as much as the next foodie, but I’d like to think the recession has forced all of us (rich, poor, small, tall) to become a lot more comfortable with pseudo-classiness. We are, after all, the Children of the Primark. So a quarter-breast of grilled chicken with two sides for £6.45 will always work wonders for me - every penny counts! (wink)
10:00 am • 16 April 2010
5 reasons why…I need to regularly visit the countryside
Sometimes I’ll just be walking down the street and I’m mad. Like Grrrrrrr. Like, “come within an inch of me and I’MMA GO TO JAIL TODAY!” while Ludacris’s Move Bitch is resonating loudly in my head. You know that feeling? Mmmmm hmmmm. Well, that’s what I call Londonitis – a condition which means you express an extreme dislike to the capital of England because it’s getting on your last nerve. There are international versions too – Newyawkitis, Losangelitis - in big cities mainly (and I wish I was not making this up, because you know it makes sense). So this is why I’m off to Surrey for a much-overdue, three day weekend because:
1) The London Underground. Listen - you need to be trained to use it properly, and there are many that don’t know how to. If you don’t, God be with you, because a couple of us with that Londonitis will finish you off pronto, like those Darkseekers in I Am Legend (coming out of crevices and everything). So you’ve got to always stand on the right of the escalator, do not crowd the bottleneck of the platform (there is always space to the left or right – just MOVE ALONG), and when you get on the train, please don’t crowd the entrance where there’s clear space down the aisles. Why would you do this? You LIKE someone’s armpit in your face? Well good for you - we all have our vices. But I’m tired of dealing with rule breakers every blessed day, seven days a week, 365. I’m out!
2) The High Streets. Similarly, this is to do with overcrowding, and that occasional sense of claustrophobia I get when there are way too many people up in this place. And the problem is, there are some shoppers that walk around with no sense of purpose - just milling around and taking everything in, smiling like it’s completely okay to be pedestrian in a busy area as opposed to ushering you and your fam in a corner, working out your destination and doing your best to get there as swiftly as possible. This is not a science, just courtesy. It’s a shame many forget this is LDN, and we’ll come with that POW! if you do not get to stepping! (I’m talking a good old fashioned shoulder slam - not gun/knife violence folks, Lethal Bizzle’s just kidding - side glance).
3) The contradiction of Hyde Park (and many of the others). I love Hyde Park, I really do – it’s actually one of my favourites because I live in West. But apparently it’s unhealthy to jog there because of the surrounding traffic – so those poor trees cannot knock suck up that amount of CO2 to help us, and I might one day be jogging with a water bottle in one hand and an inhaler in the other. Terrible. 1-0 to the Countryside.
4) The noise. I’ve sort of grown accustomed to the sounds of traffic lulling me to sleep when it’s time to go to bed. But every now and then there’s that ONE dude. Drunk. Loud. 3am. Talking about “SANDRA BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH SHURRRRRUP! I LOVE YOU!” Who is this dude? And where is the police? He aint romantic, talking about shut-up, I love you! I can’t STAND him! (hate’s too strong of a word, but believe me when I say the sentiment is close).
5) It’s really quite lovely. That’s the British countryside, not the delirium of London. And seeing that Surrey’s only an hour away, that’s a mere hop, skip and a jump to fresh air, good food, lovely fields and a good night’s sleep. And no mobile phone! (Yep!) You’ll see the pictures next Wednesday and see exactly what I mean.
PS: I do love London :-) (but you know there’s a thin line, c’mon now!)
10:00 am • 9 April 2010
5 reasons why…I’m not buying another bicycle.
I used to have a bike, but after a couple of years, it got a bit crusty. But in a way, it was a blessing in disguise. So if you live in London, this will be a no-brainer. If you don’t, I’m probably going to save your life if you ever do decide to move here. Here goes:
1) I COULD die young. Of course, there’s many other circumstances where I could lose my life, but looking at the stats of the number of cyclists losing their lives to Tonka Toys aka lorries and such, riding on London roads could possibly become the number one form of assisted suicide soon. So thank you, but no thank you, I value my life and will stick to safer means of travel (if, indeed, such a thing exists - side glance)
2) Some cyclists mess it up for everyone. You’ve seen them - mean, heartless, speed-demons who don’t stick to their lane and act like this is Amsterdam. Well no sir/madam, it aint and if you’re reading this and you’re one of the “those”, take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What am I DOING?!?! I need help. I’m going to CHANGE.” Now go and say sorry, because I’m giving you too much air time right now. Use Facebook and Twitter if you have to. Your welcome.
3) Bike thieves. They’re thriving in the recession and I’m not about to purchase a bike which will get jacked (remember David Cameron’s loss - that’s the leader of the Conservative Party - in 2008 right under his nose? The Shame. And that was Notting Hill mate!) and find it’s way on the black market, only to see my neighbour riding it tomorrow.
4) Not enough access. Honestly, what’s his name…er, hmmmm…oh yea - BORIS JOHNSON. Yea, the London mayor. The floppy one. Well, he can talk about making the city biker-friendly ‘till his hair turns brown, but I’m not buying it. I remember getting lost in the West End once on my bike because I followed Transport for London’s cycle routes and felt like I’d been tricked into taking the scenic view which would inspire me to part with my hard earned cash.
5) I have no where to put it. Which is totally my problem. Or is it? We’ve been asking my landlord for YEARS to get us a bike shed, but he ignores. Probably because I don’t live in Islington (London’s most cycling friendly borough, apparently) and he’s working in cahoots with Reason Number 3 :-(
9:30 am • 2 April 2010 • 3 notes
5 reasons why…Starbucks wins
I’ve been to many shops, each offering their own continental take on hot beverages, notably coffee and the many varieties it comes in. Confession - I have only recently become a coffee drinker, so could someone tell me what a (forgive the misspell) “macciato” is? I think that’s how it’s spelled? I rather someone tell me than I google it.
Anyway, while I do love the breadless avocado and crayfish sandwich from Pret ‘A Manger, I’ve got to hand it to Starbucks for taking a good chunk of my income over the last few months. Here’s why:
1. I’m American. Starbucks is an American company. Americans rule dontcha know? That’s loyalty right there. Red, white and blue all the way! Black president! Popeyes Chicken!!!! MACYS! (CHEST BUMP!)
2. I believe in the Starbucks Card. It affords me free wireless in all of their branches AND if I top it up, I get free shots of syrupy stuff. This didn’t matter until I started drinking coffee - trust me, a shot of vanilla helps with the bitterness.
3. It doubles as my office sometimes. The longest I’ve stayed in a Starbucks is about 5 hours, and that’s on the basis of a single cup of Chai Tea Latte. Result, surely? I didn’t get any dirty looks, I could keep my laptop plugged in, and the armchairs are ridiculously comfy. Not sure Pret or Caffe Nero would afford me the same treatment. Pret is French and Nero is Italian and we know that can be love and war. Mmmm hmmm.
4. Caramel Waffles. I could eat 15 of these and search my teeth for remnants a day later. Deep, I know, but they’re that good.
5. They are EVERYWHERE. I live smack between two, and while I know it’s mass capitalism playing me for the fool, I can’t knock the convenience. Sorry.
6:00 am • 26 March 2010 • 2 notes
5 reasons why…I love the Hummingbird Bakery (No Promo)
I’m not being paid for this so if I’m bragging about how fantastic this spot is, it’s not because they’re hooking a girl up with free Red Velvets. ‘Cause they’re not. But maybe they should (perhaps even offer a loyalty card, wink wink? It’d make me feel better about the weight gain caused by those sugary lumps of indulgence, geez). Anywho:
1) You know those days when you really feel like you’ve accomplished something? Like not flipping out at a tourist on the Tube for blocking the doors or resisting the temptations of Twitter to actually get some work done (hello, somebody?). Well a cupcake from Hummingbird is my royal round of applause. There’s nothing like a high calorie well-done to keep you motivated, and the icing actually sings to me in the chord of C Major. Yup.
2) There’s one in my neighbourhood (S Kensington) and they’ve also landed on Wardour Street. Can you imagine? Cupcakes on my doorstep! Oh the joy!
3) Prices are low which is good cause I’m kind of on a budget. You know how that gets.
4) The packaging is really pretty. I thought buying MAC make-up made me feel posh - HB present their cupcakes like Christmas pressies you haven’t paid for (before reality sets in of course, for example: “Oh, for me? Why thank you, you’re too kind. Oh, you want money… Damn”)
5) They’ve got a thing for pink and that’s great because I’m female and I’ve been conditioned from youth to fully appreciate and unconsciously graviate towards that colour. Totally suckered? You betcha.
6:00 am • 19 March 2010