My hometown for the next 5 months..

Friday, October 1, 2010

Goodbye London...

I'm sad to say that this is one of my last times sitting in our small, cramped, dark flat before I leave this wonderful city. What an experience it has been, and I cant't believe how fast time has flown by.
I have seen lots, learned lots and most of all met lots of wonderful people.
It's bittersweet though, as sad as I am to leave I am really looking forward to be home with family and friends once again.
I know I will be back, and I say goodbye to London for now and can't wait to be experiencing it's many sights sounds and people again.
It's been a blast London, thanks for all the amazing memories you have given me and see you soon..

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Ink is On

I have a BEAUTIFUL tattoo on my back now (upper back not lower!) and I love it. And surprisingly it wasn’t that painful. I sat in the chair for almost 2 hours and in some parts I kid you not I could have almost fallen asleep. I was sitting across from Quinn who was not quite so relaxed and looked to be in A LOT of pain. Then again she was getting it on her ribcage, apparently one of the most painful spots to get it. It takes a lot of care and attention to maintain at the moment, as it basically is treated like an open wound. It has to be kept clean and moisturized etc. But I am sure it will all be worth it in the end.
At work this week Mary our HR manager told me that she will be hiring both Dawn and Ressa to work at the hotel. What a small world! Two girls from our program back home in Victoria would be working with Quinn and I! The Canadians are starting to take over the hotel 
What else is new…oh! My birthday is in a few days and a bunch of us from work are planning on going out. This will be the first birthday that I will be away from home and my family and friends so it should be different this year. None of my mom’s famous homemade ice cream cake or family dinner  I can’t complain though, I’m in London for goodness sakes.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Am I Already Half Way Done!?

It’s official. I have booked my tattoo appointment, paid my deposit and everything is lined up for me to get inked next week. Can’t believe it is actually happening. Mom and Dad know already so it’s no big secret. Mom even helped me brainstorm of what it should say and look like. I am a bit nervous, as I am not sure what to expect but at the same time cannot wait!
I was just thinking the other day that my co-op is already half way done! Time is now flying by, I am settled at work, settled in my flat and it seems like smooth sailing from here on out. I was checking out my goals the other day and am happy to say that some progression has definitely been made. Although my manager has just up and left for another job without much warning so I am not quite sure where that leaves me. I never even really got to talk before he left. And it doesn’t look like they have even started looking for a replacement yet. So I feel that I am on my own for at least the next few weeks when it comes to pursuing my goals. Hopefully the new manager will be able to help me out. A bit frustrating to say the least..

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chalk This Up to Embarrassing Moment #1

Well I certainly didn’t think that I would find myself sitting in the emergency room on a Friday night alone, but there I was. It’s rather embarrassing why I was there in the first place. I would love to say it was something cool but it’s far from it. I basically well..ermm..ummm..got my ring stuck on my finger. I had put the ring on in the morning just fine and worn it all day with no problems. But upon returning home from a day of shopping, I tried to take it off but it simply wouldn’t budge. I tried butter and oil, icing it and elevating it but nothing was working and it was starting to turn a deep shade of purple. After 4 hours passing and it looking worse than before, it was time to head to the ER. Thankfully the wait wasn’t too long, and the nurse was able to cut it off (my ring that is) and now as a reminder I am left with one very bruised middle finger. God, how do I get myself into these situations!? The following day Quinn and I wandered around the Soho and Chinatown district. I did not get the memo that Soho quite so dirty. It is considered the gay district and there was XXX signs and posters and VERY graphic photos every way you turned. Me and Quinn definitely had a few laughs walking around there.
Work this week has been hectic, Wimbledon has begun and in turn the hotel is fully booked all this week. We have a couple of tennis players staying with us and I even served one yesterday in the restaurant. I forget his name, I am not a big tennis fan what can I say? But apparently he is very good (well obviously he is playing in Wimbledon after all) and some young up an coming Spanish player. Have been working overtime almost every shift but honestly I like it being busy, it certainly does make the shift pass by a little faster not to mention I swear I have shed a few pounds from all the running around I do day in and day out!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"What did you do this weekend?"..."Just jetted off to Portugal"

This week at work has sure been busy! With school now out it seems that everyone is starting to take their summer holidays. I have been working many a days of overtime and do not stop running around in a shift. If this is a taste of what is to come for summer I am not going to have much time for anything else! I do really enjoy work being busy though, it makes the shift pass by much quicker and is certainly giving me lots of practice. I feel as though as each shift goes by I am gaining more and more confidence and starting to perfect aspects of my newly acquired skill set. And since work has been so hectic, Quinn and I’s weekend getaway couldn’t have happened at a better time. With the work week ending us two girls were able to jet off to Lisbon Portugal for our weekend to soak up some sunshine! We flew out after our shift and were there in hot Portugal within a couple hours. We had booked a hostel in advance that ended up being perfect. It was right in the heart of the city and we could walk around to everything. It was clean and bright and we were able to meet a bunch of cool people from all over. Most of the other travelers there were Australian mixed in with a couple Americans, but sadly no other fellow Canadians! During our first full day there Quinn and I took a bus tour of the city which gave us a great overview of our surroundings, the architecture was stunning and the people were so friendly. That evening the hostel was having a pub crawl that allowed us to see the Portuguese nightlife and dance until the wee hours of the morning. After sleeping in the following morning Quinn and I awoke determined to still go out and explore on our last day in Portugal. We decided to catch a train to a smaller town outside of Lisbon known for its breathtaking beaches. All I have to say is WOW, white sand, the bright blue ocean and hot hot sunshine. Could it get much better than that? We both had a relaxing day lying on the beach before hopping back into a cab to take us straight back to the airport. Upon landing in London, we were greeted by pouring rain and a cold wind  Oh home sweet home..

Friday, July 2, 2010

Street Hockey in Trafalger Square

HAPPY CANADA DAY! What a patriotic week it was! Apparently London loves Canadians, because it was a BIG celebration here. Trafalgar square was transformed into a sea of red and white. Complete with everything Canadian..street hockey matches, poutine, Canadian beer, Tim Hortons and Canadian artists performing. I felt as if I was back home. There was random out breaks of the national anthem being sung and lots of hugs form other Canadians wishing us a happy Canada day. This day was also the night that my parents were back in London for one final night before flying back home. So I left the celebrations early and met up with them at the hotel (My hotel!) to hang out and say goodbye. The hotel was great, and made my parents VIP guests and went above and beyond to make their stay wonderful. I was very impressed. And my family definitely appreciated the effort the hotel made which made everyone happy. I ended up staying and talking to my family until nearly 1 in the morning and then I said my final goodbyes. Mom was crying (of course!) and I told her I would see her in 10 more weeks and that it will fly by. It was the perfect end to a perfect day, for sure one of the best Canada days I have ever had. Who knew that it would have been half way across the world?
With my parents now gone Quinn and I head off to go explore the Camden market today. I think I have fallen in love with this place! It is a maze of alleyways and tunnels packed full of vendors selling everything from antiques to the latest fashion craze. You can find anything you possible could ever need there. And it is not just the shopping that’s great, it’s the people watching. I could happily sit on a bench anywhere in Camden and observe the diverse crowd of people that hang out in this part of town. Lots of tattoos, lots of piercings and some of the strangest outfits I have ever seen. Definitely will be back to this part of London for some retail therapy sooner rather than later

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Family has Invaded!

My parents, brother and grandparents have officially landed in London! I walked down from my flat and met them at the South Kensington Tube station and let me tell you it was so great to see them. I may have shed a tear or two! Thankfully since I have moved here I have been fortunate enough not to be hit with any type of home sickness but this last month and a half have been tough. Between starting my job and living on my own and all the up’s and downs in between, it was wonderful to have my family here in London showing their support. They were all pretty tired having just flown in so we just took it easy and I gave them a walking tour around my neighbourhood, showed them my flat and then went for an early dinner. Over the last few days we have seen lots of sights (I tried to save the most expensive tourist attractions to do when my parents were here lol) like the London Eye for example. We spent the first couple days they were here in London doing all the things they wanted to see. We spent one of the days in the Picadilly Circus area, walked though Trafalgar square and then went and watched the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Pretty cool I must say, Grandma was in awe and just couldn’t believe she ever got to see the palace in real life. Then the family, Quinn and I made a day trip up to a small city named Bath, which is about and hour and a half train ride outside of London. This city is most famous for hosting the originally Roman Baths that were used by the Romans hundreds of years ago. This was a must see on Grandpas list. The town itself is picturesque, and upon stepping off the train it feels like you have stepped back in time. We took a bus tour of the city, tour the baths and then Quinn and I went and toured around the Fashion Museum. At the museum we both tried on corsets like they had to wear back in the 1800’s. You should have seen the two of us trying to get into them! It was so great being able to have a few days off work to be able to show them around this city that I love so much. WE certainly all had lots of laughs and saw tons. My family is now heading off to Scotland for a week to be able to dive into some of my ancestry and my grandparents are both hoping they will be able to locate some gravesites of their grandparents and aunts and uncles. Although I said goodbye to my family for now, they will be stopping back into London for one more night before flying out of Heathrow airport the following morning.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Big Move

We had the big move this week into our new flat in South Kensington. Although the flat is smaller it does give Quinn and I are own separate rooms and is literally only a 5min walk to work! When we first viewed this flat it was disgusting. The previous tenants were not very clean and I was stepping over garbage to actually be able to see the place. But I am happy to report that upon moving in the place was spotless and smelled of bleach and everything clean!
I also had a chance to go and check out the British Museum this week as well on one of my days off. It certainly is breathtaking and in a cool part of town. The Egyptian exhibit is something to see in itself..It was really amazing being able to see the things that I learned about in school right in front of my eyes. I saw things like the Rosetta Stone as well as Queen Cleopatra’s actual mummy. Definitely will be back to explore this place some more.
At work, I have been able to help out for a couple events we have been having in the evening. Cocktail parties as well as a couple very extravagant children’s birthday parties (complete with hired entertainers, 4 course meals, lots of champagne for the parents and many many presents) Working these events is a nice change from just serving in the bar/restaurant, so I have asked my manager to feel free to schedule me for anymore upcoming ones. I know that our hotel hosted last year’s British Music Awards after party, and they had celebrity guests ranging from Boy George to Katy Perry. It would be so awesome to work an evening event like that; I honestly think I may have a bit of trouble staying focused on serving instead of being absolutely star stuck. And knowing me, I would probably end up tripping and spilling champagne all over somebody!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cinematic Adventure

Quinn and I just embarked on our first cinematic adventure in London last night! Boy, the movie theaters here are something else compared to back home. They really do have a brilliant concept when it comes to the whole movie experience. Firstly, you reserve your seats ahead of time so you can show up precisely when the show is about to begin. Unlike back home where you have to be at the theater hours before hand saving seats with jackets and handbags sprawled across a row of seats waiting for the rest of your friends to arrive. Also for a couple pounds more you can be sitting in the V.I.P section of the movie theater (totally worth it) which not only has the best view in the house but oversized leather RECLINING chairs complete with side tables and plenty of leg space. Not looking forward to going back to Silvercity upon my return. I have been far to spoiled now.
This week Quinn and I and a couple girls from work went out for a night of dancing in London in a area called Picadilly Circus in the West End. When walking up the stairs from the tube station and entering Picadilly, you are blinded by the many billboards and neon signs flashing and the thousands of people still wandering around at midnight. I hear people say Picadilly Circus is like a slightly smaller version of Time Square. Walking through this area (which is known for its many nightclubs) you constantly have these club promoters walking up to you and asking you to come inside their nightclub. It gets a bit annoying after awhile, each one trying to “out do” the other by offering an even better deal than the next, “I will make you a VIP and you pay no cover”…”Well I can make you VIP, pay no cover and throw in a free drink!” It goes on and on.. Certainly is different from Victoria where I will be back to standing in line.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Goals

I have finally figured out my goals and able to discuss them with my manager, he seems very on board to help me along with them and has arranged some seminars and events to help me with my action steps.

GOAL: INCREASE CONFIDENCE IN SERVING ABILITIES AND OVERALL BECOME MORE COMFORTABLE WITH THE ORDER OF SERVICE.

ACTION STEPS: 1.) Practice upselling on a regular basis in order to better understand and develop my own strategy in what works best when it comes to selling the product to the guest.
2.) Volunteer for as many special functions and events as possible in order to work and observe how the order of service works when hosting things such as a canap├ęs and champagne service.
3.) Ensure I am constantly asking my supervisor for new challenges. For example, taking on more tables at once or serving the lobby on my own.
4.) Assist with training new staff that may start this summer

GOAL: ENHANCE FOOD AND DRINK KNOWLEDGE

ACTION STEPS:
1.) Take home ALL menus home to study including (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, bar and lobby menus). Take note of what flavours, textures and ingredients chefs have chosen to pair together. Take time to study pictures of every plate and observe how each are plated.
2.) Shadow one of the bartenders for an entire shift to enhance drink knowledge and common English cocktails ordered (because they sure are different here!) This will allow me to be more comfortable to mix drinks in the afternoon while I`m serving before the bartenders start their shifts in the evening.
3.) Attend a wine seminar by my manager to learn more about the different varietals the restaurant serves and their unique characteristics.
GOAL: HAVE AN INDEPTH UNDERSTANDING OF HOW ALL DEPARTMENTS WITHIN THE HOTEL ARE CONNECTED AND WORK TOGETHER.

ACTION STEPS:
1.)Arrange to cross train and shadow shifts in housekeeping, guest relations and a management roll within the restaurant.
2.) Attend the daily 11am management meeting between all departments to learn what important topics are discussed and what key pieces of information each department needs to know
3.) Have a meeting with my manager and discuss a typical day in their shoes. Take important note of how often they interact with other departments in the hotel and learn how vital it is to have an open line of communication between them.
GOAL: MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE AND MAINTAIN A HEALTHY DIET WHILE ON A BUDGET.
ACTION STEPS:
1.) Plan all meals for the week in advance, so when grocery shopping we are only buying items we are definitely going to use and not waste.
2.) Instead of taking the bus to work, leave time to walk the 30min there.
3.) When possible arrange to run in Hyde Park with Quinn, running buddies always make things easier!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hot in the City

This past week we have had a huge heat wave go through the city and I have been finding it VERY hard to be indoors at work while I see people on the street walking by in their bathing suits. Speaking of work, I finally feel as though I have settled into my position. These last few weeks have consisted of lots of new information and some frustrating days. But I am actually starting to feel as though I am getting the hang of it and am gaining a little bit of confidence in my serving abilities. I have come realize though, that working in the F and B department is not something I want to do in the future. I am much more interested in how the Guest Relations department runs and operates. Saying that though I think it is very useful that I am getting this experience now and am learning to fully understand how a restaurant works and how it all plays into the operation of the entire hotel.
Okay enough about work. With the weather being so so nice this week I did manage to go to Hyde Park on my day off and soak up some sun. It was only a short tube ride over (10min) and then just couple min walk from the tube station. Although somewhere in those 2 blocks I somehow managed to get lost and had to ask someone for directions. I am so thankful for having a Canadian accent when it comes time to ask for help of any sort, whether its directions or asking for recommendations for a good place to eat. Because people here seem to love it! People I work with tell me that the Canadian accent comes across really friendly and genuine sounding. Yay for us  Anyways once I finally made it in the park, I was shocked at the shear size of it. It stretches over 600 acres and is full of trees, manmade lakes and jogging trails. It really is beautiful. It was packed full of people, which made it prime “people watching” conditions for me and I was quite content sitting out in the sunshine, eating my gelato and just relaxing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dark and Damp

Oh..my..god. Our new flat has proved to have some problems that I was not expecting. Firstly being a basement suite, we seem to have ALOT of spiders. These little guys don’t bother me that much, but Quinn on the other hand has somewhat of a phobia of them I have quickly learned. I feel like every 5 minutes I’m jumping up to the sounds of her hysteric cries and her begging me to “Kill it, Kill it!!” Secondly this morning upon walking into the bathroom I notice a lovely mushroom patch growing out from under our bathtub. Let me think back to Grade 10 biology..what are the ideal growing conditions for a fungus? Dark..check…Damp..check..Dirty..check. Yuppp that pretty much sums up what our bathroom looks like. And lastly our shower is not working. Well it was..until Quinn and I went through all our hot water in 2 days. You see here, instead of paying your bills monthly, we have this kind of pay as you go gas card that lets us load money on to it and then insert it into our gas meter and provide us with heat. We were told that loading 20 pounds onto this card would be plenty for the next 2 weeks. They were wrong. I was attempting to shower the other morning and the water went completely cold, like ice cold. I yelled at Quinn to go check how much was left on the meter and sure enough, we had managed to go through20 pounds worth in a mere 2 days. Boo hoo. At this rate I don’t think Quinn and I will be able to afford gas that is that expensive. I may have to take a look into how good looking the showers are at work.
Okay I am done ranting..all that aside our flat really is quite spacious for London and as I said before it’s a short walk to work. And did I mention that it is one of the fanciest neighbourhoods in London? When people here ask me where I live and I tell them Chelsea they always “Ohhhh” and “Awwww” If only they knew that I currently have a mushroom patch in my bathroom, spiders running rampant and will shortly be having to shower at work. They don’t need to know any of that though, I’m quite content having them thinking I’m living the glamorous life in an upscale Chelsea flat.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Change is good..

This has been a week of big changes and lots of exploring! With saddened hearts Quinn and I left the comforts of Feimehs wonderful hospitality and moved into our own flat. As sad as we both were to leave behind the home cooked meals and the free accommodation, we both agree that is so nice being able to walk to work from our flat in 20min instead of the almost 2 hour commute we were doing! Although on the plus side all the commuting has given us both lots of practice riding the tube. At first the underground system here can be a bit overwhelming with the many signs, maps and escalators that lead in every which direction, but I’m starting to feel more and more like a true Londoner everyday and can navigate my way through almost any tube station with ease :)
I had a day off this week and Quinn was unfortunately working so I went for a walk and ended up at the Natural History Museum. I spent almost an entire day there. With exhibits ranging from dinosaurs to how the human body works you can really lose track of time and get caught up in it all. The building itself is even somewhat a work of architectural art. It’s so wonderful that the city of London has been able to also make most museums here completely free of charge, which is VERY helpful when you’re living on a budget and most everything else in London is sooo expensive.
Work is still a bit of a struggle. I am finding it very difficult to pick up on things when I have no one to really train me and almost every single person I work with is ESL. It certainly makes for a big learning curve for me. I guess it doesn’t really help that the only serving experience I have is from the little bit from school. But slowly and surely I hope I am able to catch on, it’s just taking a bit longer than I want it to.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Finally here and working!

After the week and a half delay from the volcano and a VERY long journey (including three different airports) I have finally made it!
I am currently staying with a family friend in a town called Edgware which is about 30min north of central London. This wonderful family has provided Quinn and I a home away from home until we are able to find our own apartment (which currently is taking longer than I would have hoped!)But it really is wonderful here, we are both being looked after so well :)

Today was my first day of work at The Kensington Hotel (Doyle Collection) as a server in their lounge-restaurant. After an hour and a half commute on the tube station I arrived at one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen. With 3 million dollar condos surrounding it and a Lamborghini dealership across the street it really is in one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in all of London. The hotel is beautiful from inside to out, with an amazing blend of traditional and modern decor.

To my suprise I was thrown right into serving, as they seem to take a more ``learn as you go`` approach. I was already serving tables on my first shift!I was kept busy all day and have met so many wonderful people from all over the world. Other servers I met today have come from places like Luithian, Spanin and Iran. It seems that the hotel business over here is a very global sector of the career market. I havent even got to hear that many English accents yet!

Anyways enough for now my shift starts at 7am tomorrow which means I am waking up at 4am to get there in time! I will be sure to keep you all posted on how everything is going and how my job progresses over the next few weeks!

xox

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Am I going?

Well thanks to the volcanoe that decided to erupt in Iceland this past Wednesday, I may or may not be flying out for London on Monday morning. I'm all packed up and ready to go but right now it is down to a waiting game on whether or not my flight is a go....
We will have to wait and see..fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Last Day of Work

Today was my last day at work before I take off for London. It was bittersweet. It was my first job that I have had since the age of 15 and it has treated me so well within the last 5 years. I have made some amazing friendships that I know will last a lifetime and it has provided me with so many amazing summers full of scandalous gossip,countless giggling fits and some overall unforgettable experiences. As excited as I am to leave here and prepare myself for some much needed change,I'm also sad to close this chapter of my life.
But never say never, there is always a chance I may return.
Us BG'ers always seem to come back :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Not much time left!

So the countdown is on, only 8 more days until I hop on the plane and take off for London, England. I'm feeling a sense of both excitement and nerves but overall I'm looking so forward to the the amazing adventure I have ahead of me.
I'm leaving on Sunday the 18th for Vancouver and spending the night there as my flight leaves at 8:00am the following Monday morning. I'm hoping that all my friends and family will be able to come to the ferry terminal and say their last goodbyes!

This blog is going to be a great place for me to keep all of you updated on all the wonderful things I will be getting up to! Don't worry, I will be sure to include all the embarassing moments as well (you know with me that their will be lots of them!)