Visiting London for the first time after 2 years

Those who read my previous entry saw that my visit to London was yet another reason to whine for me. Well, good news, I survived, and yet again decided that I shouldn’t whine about every little thing. I get nervous too easily…

I was actually asked at my son’s daycare to write a travel journal about our journey which helped me recap our experience beforehand. I will not share that here because it is quite personal and it is in Hungarian, so… Those who came for touristy stuff in London should turn back now, because we were there to visit family and we looked at those while living there already. We were visiting places that had a nostalgic value for us. We lived in North London, and that’s where we mostly stayed too.

Day 1.
We left home at 6am and arrived to our final destination  – my husband’s family’s place – at around 16pm. So counting the 1 hour time difference this journey took altogether about 11 hours, house to house. With a toddler this was a wild ride, but he was at his best behaviour mostly. Probably because of all the big loud brukkas. (Brukka: my son’s word for everything that makes a brr sound, such as motorbikes, drills, flies, planes… Works in both English and Hungarian.) I am not a fan of flying, but watching my son’s excited face did a good job at distracting me. He flew before, this was actually his 8th time, but he was too young to appreciate it the previous times. I have to say he was most excited about the noise the plane toilet made when flushing, although he had to be reassured for the next couple of days every time he went to the toilet, that it won’t hurt him.

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Day 2.
We went to a greasy spoon to have a full English breakfast, because that is something we cannot get here, and we were missing overeating early in the morning and not being able to move till mid-afternoon. No regrets, it was yummy. After that we headed out to visit a friend of mine in Redhill who I used to work with in a cafe back in the days. I have never been to Redhill before, and I only just realised now upon looking it up on the map that it is indeed not part of London. Ignorant me. It seemed so close, the only thing that made me question it was the fact that they had blue double-decker buses. My son, Emrys was talking about those for days. The main reason we went is because my friend has a daughter only 4 months younger than Emrys, and they used to be buddies when they were babies. They had tons of fun playing together and pulling her room apart while I could have a nice chat with my friend.

Day 3-4.
It was the weekend and we reserved it for family time, we only went out in the morning. A Mothercare was just closing down around there and we went for the clearance sale but it was all basic essential baby things left by than which was not worth taking up precious luggage space. We also went shopping to a bunch of other places, got some nice Paddington and Gruffalo pyjamas in M&S. Also had some fish and chips for lunch on Saturday, because it’s a must. It was from our favourite place we used to go to all the time, and it was just as we remembered.

Day 5.
Monday was an exciting day for me, because we went to Muswell Hill, which will forever be a very special place in my heart. That is the place where I first lived in London, where it all began. I previously mentioned that I was looking after a disabled lady here as my first job, and I always remember her very fondly, she was an amazing person and it was a privilege to know her. Funny enough Muswell Hill was also the last place I worked, I also worked there all the way through my pregnancy. After working in a pub and a café for a while I wanted to find something that is closer to my personality and skill set and that is how I ended up working here again, in an art shop. I worked with some of the most interesting and artistic people I have ever met, and I really enjoyed being surrounded by all the beautiful art supplies, learning about them, being challenged by customers’ strange request for homework, home decoration, even cosplays… I thought we would go in, look around, pick up some supplies, and then go; that I would be lucky if I met even one person I knew, but there were actually 3 of the girls I used to work with right there, working on that very day! I was so happy to see them on the other hand it was so weird to see how little changed there while everything changed so much in my life at the same time.
From there we went to Primark because my husband wanted to buy some clothes, as my town is a bit limited in clothes shops. He found some things he liked, for me it was a letdown however. I remembered it to be cheaper and better, but we couldn’t really agree on that one.

Day 6.
We went to Angel, another place we used to go to quite often. We were quite sad to see that Butlers closed down, but I was ecstatic when I saw Paperchase was still there. I shopped myself silly in there and Flying Tiger. For lunch we went to Chilango (pork belly tacos 4ever). In the afternoon we had family time and packing the bags with the tremendous amount of sweets, art supplies and clothes we bought. Mostly sweets though.

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Day 7.
One last fried breakfast, then we started our long journey back home.

Altogether we had a fun time. The traffic jams and random driver changes on the buses were just as annoying as before, but it didn’t get to me, because this time I wasn’t rushing to work and I knew it was only for a few days. I don’t know why I was so anxious about going back to London, but I do know I could definitely not live there again.

Here are some of the things I tried already: little brown notebook from Paperchase and oil pastels from Flying Tiger.

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London Calling

So basically I came up with this cheesy title and would not want to let it go now even though I kind of feel the opposite. I like the song though. Let me explain.

We are going to London this Thursday for a few days. I lived there for 5 years and my husband and basically my son as well are from there, and we moved back to my home town in Hungary a few months shy of 2 years ago. Now me being my sadistic self instead of being happy and excited I am using this time to reflect back on all the things that made us decide to move away.

The reason why I am huffing and puffing I guess is because I was really excited to go there in the first place. I always loved London, and before I have even seen it in person I really loved the thought of it. I already admitted that my obsession was connected to my Harry Potter obsession, although now I do realise there’s more to it than Harry Potter stuff, and I didn’t run into Harry eager to confess his love for me and taking me to Hogwarts at all. NOT. ONCE. Whatever, I’m over it. (Not.)

First time I had an opportunity to go there was a trip organised by my primary school, and I believe I was 12 at the time. I went with my Mum, and we were staying in these camper van kind of things (I am not sure what they are called because I think they were not actually mobile) by the seaside. Somewhere. No idea where, sorry. We didn’t spend much time there anyway, we went into London every day for sightseeing and only went back there to sleep. Although I also remember going to Canterbury which I really liked. We did all the touristy things like going the Madame Tussaud’s, The Buckingham Palace, all the parks we could find, Oxford street, and of course we had fish and chips – even though neither of us are huge on fish.

The second time was a language learning camp in Oxford where I spent 3 weeks. I loved Oxford. On weekdays we would have classes in the morning and then have the afternoon free. I also went to Hogwarts! Fine, it was Christ Church. But I am not far off, because some scenes in Harry Potter were indeed set there. Here are some of the pictures I took.

Since I am here to talk about London I should get onto that too. It was scheduled to visit London, but I went to Oxford around late or mid-July 2005, so we were just after the terrorist attack on the London underground, and it was cancelled. To tell the truth I nearly didn’t go at all. We went to Bath instead that day. The next place to visit was Stratford-upon-Avon, which I was extremely excited about, because well duh, Shakespeare. And I poop you not we actually did a reading exercise before that, and I was paired with this Spanish guy I had a huge crush on, TO READ THE BALCONY SCENE WITH. Little awkward 14-year-old me had the time of her life. But at the end I actually never got to see Shakespeare’s birthplace, because last minute they decided it was probably fine to visit London after all, and we went there instead. I was grumpy about it first, but had fun anyway, mostly just listening to someone having whatever speech in Hyde park, and than joining some random old guy telling us stories.

And then I went to Uni to learn English literature and linguistics to become a translator, and then I screwed it up because I couldn’t stand the pressure of the exams, having a huge breakup in the middle, changing schools, and university life in general. In a desperate attempt to run away I ended up in London, telling my parents I just need a little break and I will probably go back and finish university. I never did.

London was beautiful and full of life. It was the summer or 2012, the time of the London Olympics. It felt like the whole city was buzzing with excitement. Since at the time I was caring for a disabled lady, as her carer I got to go with her and her husband to the Paralympics. That was definitely something to remember!

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I was 21, single, finally managed to get away from school and family, and I was working only half of the week so the other half I could use to discover London. I was loving life!

Fast forward to 2017 when I was married, had a baby, I was on a maternity leave while my husband was working crazy hours, and I was missing my family like crazy. And to top it all due to some events that happened in Europe in the last few years (about which I will not go into details now) I did not want to go discover London anymore. I was afraid to go anywhere busy. I was terrified of terrorist attacks, although being a new mother and paranoid altogether probably contributed to that too.

In the last year or so I was stuck at home alone with my baby, and I had postnatal depression. Due to not seeing my husband a lot and being stressed and depressed we fought a lot. London looked a lot scarier and busier having a newborn with me. At the time we were also living in a housing association flat, and they assured us we would be able to swap for a bigger one if we expanded our family, but by that time the system has changed and we were told we would have to swap with someone. That task proved impossible for us. It was a Victorian house divided into 3 flats. Our flat had 2 rooms including the living room, a bathroom, and a kitchen, and yet somehow they managed to spread that over 3 floors. So we had 2 flights of very narrow stairs going to the flat, and 3 inside the flat. It was a right nightmare, I had to carry my baby with me everywhere, and leaving the house meant dragging the buggy and the baby down those stairs. Also our neighbours were the absolute worst.

I might have already mentioned in another post, but while we were contemplating moving to Hungary the whole Brexit vote happened, and we made up our mind at once. I did not feel welcome anymore. I wasn’t sure what would happen to me if I wanted to stay. Also I remember at the time in an expat Facebook group a Hungarian lady mentioning, that she was smoking outside the pub she worked in talking to someone else in Hungarian, and someone just walked over to her and slapped her on the face for talking in another language.

I don’t know what changed more, London or me. Probably both. I left bitter, lonely, and feeling hopeless, but I probably can’t blame them all on the place. So I hope visiting finally after such a long time should help me sort out these feelings, and move on.

Expect my next post to be about our visit to London, and I promise I will try to be happy about it.

My New Year’s Resolutions

The first month of 2019 is nearing its end, so let us start on this compulsory annual cliché fest.

I used to make new year’s resolutions as a teen and did not do a single one of them. It was usually about losing weight and studying more. And then I stopped making resolutions and the result was the same. But how do I go about it if I actually want to make some changes? The same I guess, I just have to find a way to keep myself motivated. So however silly it sounds I am going to start with a motivational list, to remind myself  that I can achieve things if I really put my mind to them.

My Super Motivational List

  1. I quit smoking.
  2. I gave myself a fresh start alone abroad when my life became too depressing.
  3. I managed to eat healthy through a whole pregnancy and all the way through breastfeeding.
  4. I gave birth to a child.
  5. All the promises I made about raising a child I kept so far.
  6. Two years of breastfeeding regardless of the pain, tongue tie, and sleep deprivation.
  7. All the days I worked through with horrible abdominal cramps (it counts, ladies, don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t!)
  8. All the paintings and handwork I finished and didn’t push to the back of the drawer to finish “later” (even if they are in the minority).
  9. All the times I went to the dentist.
  10. I moved to Hungary with my half-English.

I feel super hyped up now! Thinking about my achievements put me in a more confident mood so let us start then!

The Actual New Years Resolution List – New Year (New) Improved Me
(spoiler alert: it is still mostly about weight loss and studying)

  1. I – and therefore my whole family I am feeding  – will eat healthier. My goal is to be more energetic and to generally pimp up our immune system a bit.
  2. I will put more effort and time into my Children’s book illustration course – it is distance learning with loose deadlines so you can imagine – and generally stop procrastinating to bloody much.
  3. I will be more patient with my husband who is struggling with his language studies.
  4. I will learn to drive.
  5. I will practise drawing and work on developing a style for a web comic I would like to draw someday.

And this is it. I will stop at 5 because I don’t want to make it impossible for myself. I do have a little kid, a husband that is learning the language of the country we live in, and a house that is still in need of (a lot of) work.

Anyone else made New Years Resolutions?

My Christmas period in a nutshell

I am an absolute sucker for all Christmas related stuff so you can imagine 1st of September I was already getting giddy. See, we don’t celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving so we have the whole of winter to a) look forward to Christmas and be obnoxious about it or b) complain about people and stores being prematurely obnoxious about it. I’m mostly team “a” although there was a point in early September when we could still go to the beach, and some shops already put out their Christmas gadgets, and I have to admit that the idea of people buying Christmas lights and ornaments while we were building sandcastles (if you can call it that) and being all splishy-splashy weirded me out. A lot. But moving on.

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There were people putting out Christmas stock in shops the same time this picture was taken

I have an almost-3-year-old son you see. He started going to daycare Mid-august. How’s that related? Well, those with kids might already know the answer, but for this who don’t this means we got ALL. THE. VIRUSES. My son is a very healthy, giddy toddler. He coughed like twice and was done with it. Me on the other hand were like the walking dead from early autumn all the way up to Christmas with little breaks in between. This put a little strain on my Christmas cheer. Also I haven’t done any art for months, because with all the sickness and Christmas rush at work (I work in retail, feel sorry for me pls) I was pooped by the end of the day. To make matters worse we had a very mild autumn so we spent all weekends building our front terrace. (We are renovating an old house but more about that some other time.)

Either way I came out still loving Christmas at the end and managed to get presents for everyone in time and we had a lovely holiday overall, even made lots of cake and cookies.

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This year my mother’s present stands out the most, because I crocheted an orangutan for her, inspired by this post: Amigurumi Loopy Orangutan

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Find pattern here

It is in no way perfect, I crochet very rarely, and this was my first time (potentially last) trying this loopy design. See, I must have done something wrong, but the loops keep kind of going back… I also got a rather slippery yarn for it, which might have contributed to that. The reason why I was dead set to make this was partially because orangutans are my mum’s favourites, and also my late grandmother used to make us loopy toys like that. The last thing she made for me and my brother were two loopy crochet dogs, we received them the same day we found out she passed, I was 8 and my brother was 3. This was nearly 20 years ago, and I guess I just wanted to show that I remembered.

Last year the present I worked the most on was for my grandfather, who just moved in with my parents, because he became too sick to look after himself. Unfortunately this situation forced him to give away his beloved vizsla, so I painted him for his Christmas present. It left him a bit teary eyed, so I consider it a success.

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Overall, I hope you all had a lovely holiday and started off the new year refreshed. Have a great 2019!

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Sort of out of sorts

This is going to be an utterly pointless point but I need to vent a little. Yesterday I broke down when we went over to my parents and just cried for about an hour during lunch. I went in to the kitchen after my mother, hoping she would comfort me a little but she just carried on doing the washing up while I was crying my eyes out. So here I am.

We moved to Hungary with my English husband and kid last spring, and it’s been tough. We didn’t really have money just desperately wanted to come back, so with a lot of help we bought an old crappy semi-detached house so we could renovate it in time and expand it in the future – we don’t have our own bedroom at the moment.

My father helps with absolutely everything and we are building a terrace now which is very kind of him. But I feel like all boundaries disappeared and he just appears and lets himself in without letting us know beforehand. While I am eternally grateful for all his help this is making me quite uncomfortable, that he can just come in while we’re still in our pjs and we have to just drop everything and get to work.

I am also working with him and they are constantly pressuring me to get a high paying job. I haven’t finished uni, because I couldn’t handle the stress of it, so I am not really qualified for it. I however decided that I will finally start pursuing an art carrier and signed up to an online course at London Art College, but I am not given any time to complete it, and when I have time I am too drained.

My husband’s language study isn’t really going the way I thought it would be so he has to rely on a part time, rather unreliable English teaching job.

I feel like we might have made a mistake moving here because of how difficult  it is for my husband to get a full time job and how much my family is interfering.

So all in all I am not sure what would be the solution to all this if there is one. Definitely not telling strangers about it on the internet, but it helps. Sort of like writing a diary.

Thank you if you managed to get to this point, I appreciate it. Here’s a panda on a rocking horse.

Ps.: On top of it I kneeled on my phone and smashed the screen beyond repair. Yay!

Inktober 2018

I will finish this whole Inktober madness if it’s the last thing I do.

Sorry, I am a bit ahead of myself. I have never done Inktober before and I cannot decide if that was a great decision or a mad one. At the moment I am still on maternity leave but working alongside, I take my son to daycare every morning, go to work, pick him up, and go home together, which means I am out for approx 9 hours of the day. I usually make dinner because I am stupid enough to push it even though my husband is happy to do it. We have a garden and we grow a minimum amount of crops. We have 3 walnut trees and they’re shedding like crazy. On top of it we are building a terrace at the moment, but even when we’re not busy with that we have 5 shelves need putting up, a billion framed pictures, and the kitchen and the door frames stands half painted. *sigh*

And before I forget, I also started a diploma course at the London Art College. I am very happy about that, but I have been procrastinating my first assignment for a while now… Why? I am terrified of it.

I am basically doing it to force myself to keep doing something. I skipped the entire weekend because of reasons – I went to the zoo and generally could not be bothered – but I am keeping up alright otherwise and I am having a lot of fun with it. Also I am hoping that by the end of it I will have a bit more confidence to finally make my assignment.

So let me show you my progress so far.

These two I made at the end of September to practise the use of ink in general. I normally use watercolour, so as you can see I just kinda used ink like I would watercolour in the first one. Old habits die hard I guess. The second one is just a few flowers from my garden, drawn with an ink pen and coloured with watercolours. From 1 October I followed the official prompt list provided by Inktober’s official Instagram.

DAY 1. POISONOUS

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I started it with a simple pen drawing of the poison apple from Snow White.

DAY 2. TRANQUIL

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So at this point I was very exhausted for a number of reasons – most of them listed above – so as an overtired mother of a toddler I thought the most tranquil situation possible is having uninterrupted time in the toilet. Hehehe. With a good read and no banging on the door. One can dream, right?

DAY 3. ROASTED

Busted. I did not even do that one.

DAY 4. SPELL

Driven by the guilt of giving up on day 3 I made two entries for this one. First one is a scene from Harry Potter drawn with sepia pens and coloured by watercolour and the second one is just a generic witch using black india ink, a dip pen, and a waterbrush. I think I added a hint of colours at the end with colour pencils? Not sure anymore.

DAY 5. CHICKEN

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This time I knew I would be busy the whole afternoon, so I made this at work before opening, with pens I found lying around.

DAY 6. DROOLING / DAY 7. EXHAUSTED

Yeah, the only free moments I had I used to crochet an orangutan.

DAY 8. STAR

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First one I am actually pleased with. Made with white ink and dip pen on black card.

DAY 9. PRECIOUS

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The urge to draw Gollum was strong but I overcame it. This is a drawing of my son from when he first tried solids. He really enjoyed the texture of pea puree – didn’t have much interest in eating it but he had the best fun spreading it everywhere. I used a double-sided grey and black pen for this one, and green watercolour for the puree.

So that’s where I am so far. I will be back with another summary once I have enough to talk about again.

By for now!

 

Edit: I ended up abandoning this project after all since I knelt on my phone and damaged it beyond repair. I lost motivation because I couldn’t upload my drawings to Instagram anyway. Maybe next time?

Moving on from the rainy weather

First of all let me state I am fully aware how long ago my last post was published, and let me just add in my defence that is more or less the same amount of time I spent without a laptop. I recently got hold of one so I’m just going to pretend I haven’t abandoned my blog for 2,5 years and pick up from wherever I left it at.

Last time I made an update I was 15 weeks pregnant, so as a result since that I have a 26-month-old boy, Emrys. How time flies, huh?

That is not even the only big thing that happened, I actually feel a bit like lying writing here right now, as I moved back to not so rainy Hungary. I do not however plan to change the name for two reasons:

  1. My days in season-appropriate weather sounds dull.
  2. I am planning to tell you more about my days in the rain.

Ultimately I do feel like I still have a lot to say about my life in England, as well as about my new life back home, so whatever comes I guess.

I also picked up painting somewhere in between, so expect some if that too. I will leave a random giraffe here for now.