My Aussie-versary | One Year in Melbourne

So this week, my Australian life turns one. I’ve survived as an Aussie for one whole year. Yay me! I’ve tolerated temperatures of 46 degrees, cooked on barbecues more than I ever thought possible, developed a weird awkward mini Aussie accent and even eaten wallaby. Oh, and the word heaps is legit part of my daily vocabulary. For this I will be eternally sorry.

So yeah, this time one year ago I touched down in Melbourne with nothing but 27kgs worth of my old life, a working holiday visa and a heart full of hope that I’d done the right thing. If I’m honest, moving to the other side of the world for a BOY wasn’t exactly something I EVER saw myself doing. And by that I mean I was probably more likely to become a Jehovah’s Witness than succumb to that thing people call lurve. 

But somehow, here I am, one year on. And in terms of how the relationship is going, last night I chugged in excess of 6 glasses of champagne at a wedding and sang Horses by Daryl Braithwaite at the top of my lungs with my boyfriend’s entire family into my Snapchat camera, before preceding to adopt a ‘no sitting’ policy and physically DRAG said boyfriend’s dad and sister onto the dance floor because an Australian song I’d never heard had come on and I wanted moral support. So yeah, I think it’s going pretty well.

In all seriousness, yes, I completely did the right thing. Do I miss home? Of course. Did I cry when the song ‘Home’ by Michael Buble was played at the aforementioned wedding? PERHAPS. (No, you’re pathetic.) Do I have weird emotional days near-ish to my period when I get all freaked out at the future and picture us getting deported from every country and wind up living in a tipi in Utah on a ranch with nothing but tumbleweed to amuse us? Sometimes. But really, none of that matters because I know it’ll work out somehow, and even if we do end up in Utah, we’ll totally get an online Kmart order delivered and make it homely with some Pinterest-worthy photo frames and maybe a marble soap dispenser or twelve.

In no way is this meant to come across totally narcissistic, but if you’re ever found asking yourself, ‘do long distance relationships work’?, take a step back. Long distance relationships have such a bad rep, and I really don’t get why. For one, it’s totally outdated. Okay yes, if this was the 1920s and I had had to spend 2014 waiting for a telegram to clarify whether Jess was dead, alive or sleeping with a ho-bag from Uni, yes that would’ve been hard. But nobody has taken the chance to factor in Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Viber and the retained eternal magic of snail mail (hand sent Valentines cards are the best Valentines cards. Just sayin’).

If you really, really want something to work, it can. Sure, you have to live in this weird limbo life that’s just one amalgamation of the loneliness of being single without actually any of the fun parts, with a bit of tiredness from late night phone calls across time zones and a big phone bill thrown in for lols. Oh, and you’ll spend a fortune on postage. Did somebody say £55 to send some Christmas pressies? Oh yeah, those hot figures were part of a sweet December serenade I received from Royal Mail. Thanks for nada!

If you’re willing to commit 100%, your long distance relationship CAN work. And it can even be better than any other relationship you’ve ever been in. That’s right kids, you too could see the look on your friends and relatives faces when you tell them you’re dropping everything to move 11,000 miles for a boy (banter) and YOU TOO could spend $7000 on a visa just to be together. Oh it’s such a magical ride. Soz.

FYI, right before you plonk the $7000 on your MasterCard, it is also 100% okay to flick through all the hot clothes you could buy instead in your head, and all the hot islands you could prance around on, and consider sacking the whole lot in for about a nanosecond (sorry, Jess love you).

But the best feeling, really, is knowing you wouldn’t take any of that. The reality is, that person marks a start in your life, rendering everything prior a distant memory.

Sure, you might have to drop everything and move thousands of miles, you might put flight after flight on your credit card, you might spend money that was earmarked for a house deposit on trips just to be together.

Would I want it any other way? Of course not.

Never ditch someone or something because it seems too hard, or because someone somewhere once told you that they knew someone who knew someone who’s long distance relationship went down the shitter. For every LDR down the pan, there’s a thousand ‘normal’ relationships down there, too. Don’t blame distance for a decision you’ve made yourself, and don’t make distance question anything.

Get yourself a hot chocolate, watch Going The Distance with Drew Barrymore and everyones favourite weirdly-ugly-yet-somehow-still-hot dork, Justin Long, and repeat after me. Fuck. The. Miles.

I’m off to eat vegemite, watch Seinfeld and practice verse two of Advance Australia Fare and pray The Queen and the corgis can one day forgive me.

Toodles xxx

 

Advertisements

The Juan and Only Mexican for Me

Okay so let’s get this straight. I effin’ love Mexican food. Partly because it’s all carbs and cheese and spices and more cheese and allll the avo and sour cream I could dream of, and partly because of the plethora of puns that come hand in hand with Mexican chat.

So today I’m gonna taco ’bout some rad Mexican food I scoffed last week. See what I did there? Dw, I’ll stop now.

So last week Jess and I went to the Gold Coast, and somewhere between acting out all the scenes from the Inbetweener’s movie we managed to squeeze in a dinner at Beach Burrito Co. in Coolangatta.

Coolangatta by the way is well worth a visit. When people think of Gold Coast they think of Surfer’s Paradise. Take it from me. It ain’t paradise. Paradise to any self respecting female is chilling on a hammock in Bora Bora while staff fan you with palm tree leaves while sipping mojitos. Surfer’s Paradise is basically the Southern Hemisphere’s answer to Magaluf. Coolangatta is way more up my rapidly aging twenty-something’s alley. Plenty of pensioners, not a nightclub in sight, and a dessert bar IN THE APARTMENT BUILDING. Yup, Max Brenner. You dawg.

Anyway Beach Burrito. With an insane view of the clear blue ocean, the European style white decking and Corona laden interior, it was the ideal place to refuel after a mental day basically having Wet ‘n’ Wild to ourselves (and me nearly peeing my pants after having to be launched backwards down a vertical drop in a shared dinghy with Jess on one of the slides).

Jess had bribed me with the Mexican feast to get me on every ride he could at Wet ‘n’ Wild to relive his childhood (while I almost burst a tonsil screaming at every twist and turn), so I’d already earmarked the chorizo and halloumi plate for starter.

Beach Burrito Co Chorizo and Halloumi Plate
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

While not what I expected, it was delicious. It was sort of like an open wrap. I even ate some of the corn which was inconveniently hidden in every crevice of the halloumi goodness – and for those who know how much I hate corn, this is a milestone. FYI I really hate corn. The cheese was as springy and salty and omg so good – as I’d want halloumi to be, so I was happy.

For main we had burritos. Big, foil wrapped, juicy, can’t fit my chops round it burritos. There are few words. I couldn’t get a decent Instagram worthy snap of it unfortunately, though if I’m honest I only gave it a few trys before I sunk my orthodontically offensive gnashers into the mighty diameter of my Tofu and Bean babe. I had tofu because I’ve sort of given up some meat because I don’t really know why but yeah. Lol yes I know, I had chorizo for starter, but whether or not meat causes cancer, soz life but chorizo is where I draw the line.

I washed this down with a larger, cos, ya know, when in Rome and all that. Aside from the burps that followed my lad style pint was a delight (might I add, Jess had a lemonade, so I did fully embrace the butch beer drinker image). I woulda had a Corona but frankly I find it weird when I sip it and the lemon touches my lip so yeah, went for the Cooly beer on tap (Cooly being the irritating abbreviation of Coolangatta).

All in all, a top place for a Mexican chow down. The tacos looked incred as well and I kinda wish I’d had a few of those instead as they were little tapas-y ones, but… next time! The nachos and loaded fries were all too tempting, but they’ll need to go on the wishlist, too. Even my appetite couldn’t stretch *crys*. I hear there’s one in Fitzroy so yeah, you’ll find me there (this time, taking better pictures!).

Beach Burrito Company
Image via http://www.beachburritocompany.com

Adios amigos

Coco x

The stages of jet lag: a dazed and confused guide to the weirdest week of your life

Having racked up almost 100,000 miles in air travel over the past two years, I’ve become no stranger to a little jet lag. I thought I had experienced the full throttle after flying back from New York and landing at what felt like 11pm, when it was actually only lunchtime. I foolishly took a nap that afternoon and my body clock was off for about 2 days. Unfortunately, I was naive enough to believe that would have in some way prepared me for what was to come. But sadly not. It hits you in the face the second you step off the plane at your destination, and leaves you waking at varying times of the night wondering where and who you are. For all you know, you could be Michael Jackson’s ghost (which wouldn’t be completely impossible given that I have many a time crashed around the bedroom in the dark trying to get my bearings in a Thriller like fashion).

Anyway, like pretty much everything else, I figured there was probably a funny side to this madness, so I attempted to translate that exact feeling into a progrressional timeline of jet lag, so that, maybe – just maybe, I can help at least one of you realise that making any elaborate plans for the immediate few days following your arrival is a sincere mistake.

Walk the walk. You’re fresh off the plane, you’ve slept, you’ve even mopped your poor economy class brow on a hot cloth handed to you by an air stewardess with bizzare tongs that you assume were manufactured solely for that moment in life, and you think you can nail this. It’s midday local time, and you’re totally ready to chug a skinny capp and stay up until an appropriate bedtime.

 

The slump.

 

The coffee starts to wear off and your body starts preparing for bedtime. Glancing at the clock, you see it strike 5pm and it dawns on you that you’ve got another 5 hours to get through.

via giphy.com

People are talking but you’re completely zoned out. Smile and nod, smile and nod.

via giphy.com

IT’S BED TIME. HURRAHHHHHHH.

via giphy.com

You wake from the deepest sleep, your mouth drier than a quinoa cracker.

via giphy.com

It must be morning, wow, I’ve slept through! NOPE, 3am.

via giphy.com

Time ticks on.

via giphy.com

 

Morning comes. You rise, despite it feeling like the middle of the afternoon given that you started your day 6 hours ago – yet did nothing but lay in bed angry. You try to eat – as they say, eating breakfast helps set your body clock. Before long, you face plant your toast.

via giphy.com

All around you is reassurance. Stories of those who have battled through. How you’ll “be back to normal in a few days”. You look on in disbelief.

via giphy.com

Hours of confusion, a touch of anger and a dash of hallucination later, you decide you can take on the world, and you power through. When you eventually adjust, you half expect a monument to have been erected in your honour, and perhaps a letter from the Queen, but take it from me; HRH must be a little busy tending to the corgis to have mailed my letter, but, you know, I never give up hope.

via giphy.com

For those of you who have read  this thinking, ‘what’s this girl on about? Jet lag isn’t that bad’, count yourselves lucky. Apparently you’re meant to get used to the effects of changing time zones, but 100,000 miles later, I’m yet to see any progression!

 

 

 

43 things that happened to me in 2015

Wow, what a crazy year. I thought no year would fly by as fast as 2014, but hey there 2015, you’ve gone and trumped it. It’s been a great year for me – here’s some things that happened on the ride:

  1. I finally realised I’m too old to remain in love with One Direction. Zayn’s departure didn’t break my heart the way it should have done, and I came to the sad conclusion that I could’t really give two shits about them anymore.
  2. I accepted that a bowl of bran flakes and four Ryvita crackers is not sufficient nutrition for the day.
  3. I realised how much I truly hate winter. I used to sort of love the cosiness of it all – the jumpers, hot chocolates, fluffy socks and layered clothing. But at some point around July in Melbourne, rain-sodden and snivelling, I announced I could not go on. My search for eternal sunshine began in Northern Queensland, where I had two tantrums and shouted at my boyfriend declaring that the cloud that had appeared on our second day was his fault. Obviously.
  4. I ate wallaby… and enjoyed it.
  5. I gave up red meat (a very recent development – for those of you who are questioning whether or not you did in fact see me chug a burger two months ago).
  6. I stopped lying to myself about enjoying clubs less than I used to. I started to realise I was getting too old for it when I stopped recognising the music, and I’m now 100% certain that I am over the hill.
  7. I made my peace with Aussie television.
  8. I learned the truth about Australian winter. No. It absolutely is NOT like our summer.
  9. I learned to drive an automatic car without flapping my left foot about in search of a clutch.
  10. I learned that sucking tea through a Tim Tam has to be done incredibly quickly before it all goes soggy and plummets to the ibis that is the bottom of your teacup.
  11. Apparently having a headache doesn’t always mean you have a brain tumour.
  12. I become a professional writer after years of writing content for free (yay me).
  13. I allowed my boyfriend to see me removing my upper lip hair.
  14. I discovered I am truly dreadful at market research interviewing.
  15. I survived an 8 hour drive to Adelaide (and back) without a freak out (bar one tiny blip on the final 3 hour stint of the return journey when we were further from McDonalds than we thought).
  16. I realised I don’t actually like Victoria’s Secret stuff that much.
  17. I sent so much stuff home from Melbourne over the year that the man in the Post Office said “to England?” every time I went in with a parcel.
  18. I realised I need to know more about politics.
  19. I discovered the true need to wear socks with my running shoes.
  20. I found a hairdresser that actually cuts off the amount you want, and doesn’t ask me how I blow dry my hair when she knows the answer is I DON’T.
  21. I found that when you exercise a lot, your hair and beauty game takes a serious hit.
  22. It seems that 5k in a beachfront race feels a lot further than 5k on the treadmill.
  23. It turns out I don’t like chia seeds. Or cacao powder.
  24. But against all odds I do like courgetti and natural peanut butter.
  25. I finally found the perfect eyeliner brush.
  26. I started saying no to cream on my Starbucks Christmas drinks for the first time EVER.
  27. I learned both verses of the Australian National Anthem.
  28. And upped my level of defence and respect for The Queen.
  29. I discovered that working from home is not always the dream your 9-5 office job leads you to believe it to be.
  30. I realised I’m over Lucy Watson.
  31. But made my boyfriend follow her on Instagram.
  32. Despite having fallen somewhat in love with mine and boyfriend’s long distance, novel-worthy existence, seeing some couples popping round to each other’s houses for the evening and having mutual family gatherings made me realise I do sometimes wish it was normal.
  33. I found that I will forever compare every mode of transport to The Tube.
  34. Taylor Swift got too cool for me. Bring back the country pop, gal.
  35. I heard the phrase ON FLEEK and quickly developed a seething hatred for its entire being.
  36. When I was new in Melbourne I made conversation with someone by telling them I thought I was allergic to my toothpaste.
  37. I learned never to make conversation by telling someone you think you’re allergic to your toothpaste.
  38. I cried at The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
  39. I also cried at Masterchef Australia.
  40. I realised how sad I am that the early-twenties stage of my life where you live with girlfriends is over.
  41. I realised that Corgis are my spirit animal. And that I must have one.
  42. I went to JB HIFI and Harvey Norman in excess of one hundred times with my boyfriend while he stared at the same TV for hours on end. That’s love.
  43. I discovered the reason I am so unhappy after going to Pancake Parlour is because I don’t actually like pancakes that much.

2015, you were pretty rad. Bring on 2016.

Coco xx

fleek

Safe Journey Home

“Next waiting”.

I scuttled up to the border control desk, patted my passport and boarding pass down on the desk and looked up. “How was your time in Australia, darl?” uttered the Aussie-as-they-come teller. “Great, thanks” I replied, choking slightly on my words; the goodbye behind the departure doors still freshly forming that wrenching lump in my throat that I knew all too well. Bleary eyed and puffy as a Pokemon, I looked up and caught Aussie-as-they-come teller’s eye. “Safe journey home, miss”, he muttered, donning a slightly crooked grin on his face that sort of said ‘enjoy the 24 hour flight to freezing winter’.

Home. Safe journey home. As I picked up my maroon passport with those lions so dear to my heart plastered across the cover, I retreated. Home? What a fool that man was. I live here now. And then I realised. No I don’t. There it was staring me in the face. I’m leaving my ‘home’, to go ‘home’ (the somewhat obnoxious inverted commas being the operative and soul defining punctuation in that sentence). Here I was patting myself on the back for making a life for myself on the other side of the world, feeling excitement – albeit sewn with sorrow – to be heading back to the UK for Christmas. I’ve got two homes now – the words I’d been foolishly serenading my days with. It wasn’t until Aussie-as-they-come teller wished me a safe journey home, that I felt like I’d stripped myself of a home. Suddenly neither place felt like the ‘h’ word, and it made me wonder – what makes a place a home?

With the woman to whom I owe my entire existence, my Mum, on one side of the world, and the person I love on the other, I found myself literally torn between two places. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hardly the first time I’ve felt torn. This was inevitable, and a somewhat familiar feeling – but never before like this. My solid allegiance to my home country of England had always reigned strong in these situations. Sure, Melbourne was fine, but it’s not home. But when you’ve been in a place with a person you love for so many months, you create a routine, a day-to-day existence, and a soft spot for the things that make it what it is. Every step closer to comfort in that place, takes away from the comfort of the old place. And so I’m asking, can you call two places home, or does every extra ounce of love for one unstitch a part of your love for the other? You feel like you’re cheating on one of the places by missing the other, yet we can’t go about our lives longing for another place, either. How do we juggle a love of two homes? Is it two homes, or are we actually a wanderer, seeking validation and confirmation of one decision?

A sombre thought to ponder, fellow nomads. I apologise. Upbeat and humorous sequel to this post to follow. Promise. Spoiler alert – I’m going to review an American reality show that I found called Dating Naked. (Don’t panic. It’s clean.)

Love always,

Coco xx

homessign

22 things your English friends say when you live in Australia

Okay, so while I’ve taken somewhat of an absence from the blogosphere lately – attributed to being flat out bashing my fingers against the keypad working on other projects, and basking in the Aussie sun (more on that later) – it’s generally common knowledge that I’m living in Melbourne at the moment. Living in a country with such a globally misunderstood reputation has allowed me to notice a few, er, let’s say patterns in the things my friends and family back in England say to me about being here, so today, I’m setting the record straight. Don’t get me wrong, obviously I’m utterly elated that my pals are even communicating with me from 11,000 miles away and haven’t forgotten the essence of my existence since I left 7 months ago – but some of these perceptions of this country need clearing up once and for all!

Crocodiles

So, what even is the time there? Is it like, the middle of the night? I just can’t get my head around it!

It’s 11 hours ahead, just like last time you asked. You know that smartphone that you’re glued to? It has a world clock. Try that. 

Wow, you must be soo tanned!

Nope. Not really. I actually have a job and a house that are inside. I’m not just cruising around Byron Bay in baggy trousers and a crop top in a knot.

Have you got an accent yet?!

….Maybe 😳

Are you going to come back and keep saying BONZA?

Nope. Nobody says that. 

What’s a ‘cool change’?!

This weird thing when the hot weather stops for a day or two to allow you to breathe again. You’re outside and its 35 degrees, then suddenly a huge gust of cold wind comes and the temperature plummets 10 degrees in about 6 minutes. 

Wow, you must be ‘throwing shrimp on the barbie’ for dinner every night, right?

Again, nope. Funnily enough there are calories here too. And ovens. And normal food that isn’t barbecued. 

What do you mean it’s raining?

Yep. It rains here. Imagine that. 

Hahahaha, you said #winter the other day on Instagram. Their winter is like our UK summer though, isn’t it?

NO. I’m in Melbourne, it’s 8 degrees and raining, and I’ve just bought a coat and scarf. 

What does 40 degrees feel like?!

Imagine 30 degrees. But a third hotter. Bingo.

But there’s air con everywhere right?

Ask Metro trains what they think about that statement. 

Work? I thought Aussies just chilled on the beach all day.

Yeah and rent is paid for by the state. Not. 

*I’m going to Adelaide* Where’s that? Near Sydney?

Not quite. Imagine the entire length of the UK. Double that. That’s how far from Sydney that is. 

What’s a suburb?! Like Hammersmith or Clapham?

No. Not really.

How often do you eat kangaroo?

About as often as you eat cat. 

So are there spiders like EVERYWHERE?

There are no spiders here. 

Do you feel like you’re in the Inbetweeners movie?

None of my friends work in nightclubs and I’m not frequenting Surfers Paradise with a backpack so again, no. 

Have you been bitten by a spider?!

No, haven’t done that either. 

Are there snakes in your back garden?

No, I do not live in the outback.

Are there kangaroos fighting as soon as you open your front door?

Afraid not.

Do you feel like you’re on neighbours?

Occasionally. And no, I have not been to the Ramsay St set and I do not intend to.

Does McDonalds taste different?

Unlike Europe, it actually doesn’t!

I bet you don’t miss England at all!

ACTUALLY I SO TOTALLY DO! I MISS SAINSBURY’S, I MISS TESCO, I MISS THE BANK NOTES, I MISS THINGS BEING OPEN LATE, I MISS THE TUBE, I MISS MY OYSTER CARD, I MISS STARBUCKS NOT TASTING LIKE DIRT, YES I DO MISS ENGLAND! 

Thoughts after my first week as an Aussie

Hello world. This post is coming from you live from Melbourne, which for the time being, is the place I call home. While I like it here, and love exploring all that this glorious country has to offer, its a well known fact that I am a complete amalgamation of everything British. I’m known to break into chants of “I’m England ’til I die”, or God Save the Queen at random intervals, defend our awful weather and annoyingly pick apart any accent that isn’t that of the Queen’s English. Its for these reasons that its hard for me to adjust to a new country, so here are some of my thoughts after my first week as an Aussie resident, some good and some bad!

1. The prevalence of avocados on restaurant menus is DELIGHTFUL. Smashed, sliced, coupled with perfectly crisped bacon…you name it, its there.

2. People are kind of rude. Restaurant staff in particular. Conversations aren’t modelled on the standard British “sorry, hi, yes, please thank you sorry, thanks, cheers, see ya, yeah cheers bye”, and its quite unsettling.

3. 29 degrees is apparently the appropriate weather for donning head to toe fleece.

4. Every single road is like driving on the M25 (even in the suburbs the roads have a billion lanes).

5. There are actually ample bins. Its not like London where any sort of rubbish disposal is considered catnip for terrorists. I can dispose of my litter in peace.

6. Trains seem to come when they damn well please.

7. Coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. Great coffee everywhere. Even at McDonalds.

8. There’s a genuine place called Waffee. Waffles and Coffee. Enough said.

9. Frozen coke. Frozen fanta. Frozen sour watermelon. Slurpees. FROZEN ERRYTHANG.

10. They haven’t yet grasped the concept of free cash withdrawals. $2.50 charge for using an ATM that isn’t owned by your bank. SAY WHAT?

11. People repeatedly tell you that Melbourne has unpredictable weather and that you can have all four seasons in one day. I’m from the UK. I am fully used to unsteady climates. I don’t need it to be explained to me.

12. TV advertising is hysterically cringeworthy.

13. Nobody says “pay with card”. Its apparently Eftpos (some sort of unnecessary acronym)

14. Any word that can be shortened, is shortened.

15. The prices of stuff is messed up. A McFlurry costs $5 (about £2.75). Yet a McDonalds ice cream cone (with almost the same amount of ice cream) is 50 cents (30p). WHAT?

16. The fast food monarch we call Burger King has been replaced with a young boy named Jack who requires food. Burger King = Hungry Jack’s (no idea why)

17. The food at Starbucks is far better than the UK. No stale blueberry muffins or dry panini in sight

18. Ive spent a fortune on water. I drink bottled water a lot, and here they cost about $3.30. I miss my 40p Evian from Sainsbury’s.

19. THEY STILL HAVE CADBURY DREAM. That white chocolate that was discontinued for sale in the UK when we were about 12. IT LIVES ON.

20. Everything. Is. Massive. Forget your regular sized shampoo bottle at about 250-400ml. No no no. EVERYTHING IS HUGE AND HAS A PUMPY LID. Litres and litres of toiletries line my shower now.

So those are my initial observations upon spending my first week as an Aussie. More musings to follow….

Ciao x

Hubba Hubba – A Review of HUB by Premier Inn

Oh hi there. Happy New Year and all that. I hope you all had a good one. I certainly did…I managed to score it off work on account of boyfriend flying in for the occasion, so that was a treat. We spent it in London, which was more hassle than it sounds on paper. If you’ve ever tried to find somewhere to stay on New Years Eve in a major city without it costing the earth, you’ll understand the struggle. Every one of our go-to hotels had hiked their prices up to about four times the usual rate, but rightly so if you ask me – it is the biggest night of the year, why the hell wouldn’t they. Just as we were about to succumb to paying the extortionate rates, I took a punt at checking the Premier Inn website. I don’t often bother anymore for London hotel searches, because, and I wonder if anyone else has noticed this, Premier Inn got premier prices! Often we’re managed to bag a night in a 5 star Tower Bridge spot for almost the same price as a PI, with rates often exceeding £150 per night even on weeknights. Anyway, I came across the new HUB hotel, which is a new brand under the Premier Inn umbrella. I had briefly heard about the concept a while back, but wasn’t aware it was already underway. The idea is basically smart techno compact hotels in key cities, which don’t claim to boast ample space or leisure facilities, but do offer savvy space saving rooms for both business and pleasure travellers. This was priced at £140 per night for Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st December (so right over NYE). In comparison to other offerings, nothing else at this price was anywhere near as central.

We read some reviews before we left, and were a little concerned about the space, noise complaints, and the apparent glitches with the completely new and innovative app controlled in-room features, but having been ourselves, I really felt I needed to write this review as people are clearly unrealistic in their expectations of this hotel concept, and are not seeing it for what it is. UTTERLY FANTASTIC. The existing reviews do not do it justice at all, so give this a read before you snub the Hub!

It opened late in 2014, and is snuggled in between Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, on St Martin’s Lane. The location is undoubtedly faultless. One step outside and you’re in the middle of theatreland, a few minutes walk from any tube line or us route you want, more restaurants and bars than I can count, and loads of tourist spots (Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, The Strand, Covent Garden, Oxford Street….to name but a few!).

Upon check in, I was greeted by a friendly receptionist, and I proceeded to one of the check in points. I stood there for a second glaring at it questioning how, at 23, the technological era seems to have swallowed me up and spat me out, and it began to dawn on me that a five year old in this day and age could probably decode this robot better than I could. Luckily, the aforementioned receptionist trotted over and began to translate. She instructed me to open my Hub by Premier Inn app on my iPhone and bring up my booking and the QR code that came with it (that’s those funny splodges that look like space invaders that somehow contain data). I scanned it and my booking appeared on the screen. I filled in the necessary details, and chose whether or not we wanted any breakfast delivered during our stay. I declined, but don’t worry, you can order it at a later time using your app! You then pick up a room card from the stack on the machine, swipe it, and tah-dah, you’re checked in! Despite being filled with glee at my exceptional check in experience, I proceeded to our room with a slight apprehension at what would await. Half of me was expecting a pokey dormitory fit for an army of mice, but I remained positive. The corridors were wide, everything was sparklingly new and sleek.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 15.11.16 Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 15.11.07

We had been given an accessible room, as that was all that was available at the time of booking, so I had hoped our “mouse dorm” might have a bit more space. WELL. A bit more space you ask? It. Was. Huge. Room 501 greeted me with a large wet room bathroom, ample floor space, a large double bed, plenty of storage for suitcases, and a million well-placed plug sockets (which is a real game changer for me in hotel rooms). Previous reviews complained that there was no tea and coffee making facilities, which, no, there wasn’t, but a complimentary lounge on the ground floor serves hot drinks free of change 24 hours a day, which is really better than a few tea bags and long life milk on a tray, isn’t it?!

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 15.10.12 Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 15.11.00

One of the coolest features of the HUB, is the use of the app to control in-room features like temperature and lighting. Don’t panic, if you’re still in a happy relationship with your Nokia 3310, you can still stay here. Please please ignore all the reviews that are marinated in a snide “you’ve got to have a smartphone” tone, because you don’t. There’s a modern panel above your head in bed with touch buttons, which contrary to some reviews, you absolutely DO NOT accidentally lean on with your pillows, unless you insist on sleeping on a 10 foot pile of cushions. The air con was brilliant to cool the room down, and the second it got to chilly, turning the temperature back up quickly adjusted the room a warmer setting. It really bothers me when hotel rooms are too hot or too cold, so it was really nice to be able to adjust it yourself. Noise was not a problem at all. We expected a certain level of noise with it being New Years Eve, and expected other couples like us to be coming in quite late, but we didn’t hear a peep out of anyone, despite the hotel being full.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 15.10.31

I would say the only downside is that their isn’t a phone to contact reception. Our smart TV was playing up, but I called the main hotel number from my phone and they sent someone right away to fix it. The staff were pleasant, check in and out was super easy, the rooms were a fine size and extremely well equipped, and the location was faultless. Overall a fantastic stay, not to mention the crash course in 21st century technology that comes with operating the intelligently stylish features.

If you’re looking for a plush, boutique hotel stay with ample leisure facilities and room service, then no, this isn’t for you, and I won’t pretend it is. But a high number of visitors to London are simply looking for a reliable, comfortable crash pad, close to everything they want to see and do, without it costing the earth. This is certainly that. Overall, a fantastic addition to the Premier Inn group. I can’t wait to try more locations!

Click here to see the Hub by Premier Inn website and book your London stay now!

29 Things Nobody Told You About Australia

1. The spiders aren’t literally waiting for you at the airport. Nor are they everywhere you look.

2. They don’t have a coin smaller than 5 cents, even though things are still strategically priced at $1.99. If you paid with a $2 coin, don’t wait for change. You will be disappointed. On the plus side, their notes won’t rip, even if they do look like Monopoly money.

3. Not everywhere is hot. They even wear COATS.

4. A 24 hour flight isn’t as bad as it sounds. Honestly. It may fill you with fear and dread, but really, a couple of movies, a few cat naps, flick through a book or magazine, some new music on your iPhone, and its over in a flash.

FullSizeRender

5. The jet lag, on the other hand, is as bad as you think. Actually, its probably worse. 5am will become a familiar time of day.

6. The legal requirement for all establishments serving food and drink to have a public bathroom doesn’t apply here. After skulling a large Coke at McDonalds, I learned the hard way.

7. They have an absolutely MASSIVE range of chocolate that you’ll never have seen in the UK. And they have freddos in every flavour possible.

8. The aforementioned chocolate, is however, extremely expensive. $3.30 for a KitKat Chunky. Thats about £2!

9. They refer to themselves as “Australians” more than you would believe. Particularly in TV ads. They never just say “people”.

10. No houses have an upstairs. Ever.

11. Having a pool at home is as standard as having a bin.

image3

12. You genuinely can’t cross the street unless there’s an official crossing. J walking is an actual offence!

13. They say the word “maroon” as “marone”. And they do it on purpose. Seriously.

14. Everyone eats Vegemite and watches Seinfeld. Everyone.

15. Student concession cards and drivers licences from one state aren’t valid in another.

16. You’ll never be asked how you’re “doing”. You’ll hear a lot of “how you going?”

17. The AFL Grand Final is a bigger deal than Christmas, New Year and anybody’s birthday….combined.

IMG_1317

18. Everything closes early. Yet things are open on Easter Sunday.

19. They get a day off for the Queen’s birthday. Yep, our Queen.

20. In Sydney, not only are the trains double decker, the seats are reversible, so you never have to travel backwards. I won’t lie, this was the best discovery of my entire trip…and we caught it on video here.

21. They claim Italian Chicken Parmigiana as “Australian cuisine”… ever thought the Italians might have something to say about this? They also manage to breed chickens with massive baps, to produce these bad boys.

image1

22. All lattes are about the size of a vodka shot. Everywhere.

image2

23. That said, the coffee is exquisite.

24. They can’t pronounce the letter L. Here’s a translator:

“Straya” = Australia

“Miyyion” = Million

You get the idea

25. They call peppers “capsicums”

26. You can’t get sweet popcorn at the cinema

27. Sadly, nobody really says “rippaaaaa” and “gday”

28. They don’t drink Fosters either. Or say “good call” in an overly Aussie accent. *cry*

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 21.44.15

29. These hilarities aside, men aren’t all blonde douchebag surfers with long hair and board shorts, and the people are more friendly than you’ll ever encounter in London. And I don’t know whether its one of the things people never told you, or whether people did tell you, but there’s no doubt its one of the coolest places on earth.

So there you go 😉

Huroo

(They don’t say that either)

Reviewed: Hesperia Hotel Lanzarote

Oh wow, a whole month has passed since I last blogged. Where has time gone! I’ve been super busy, and yes, boyfriend finally arrived from Australia, so I’ve got blog post ideas coming out of my ears from the time I’ve missed!

Last week we got back from a week in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, and I just had to review the hotel we went to. I’ve actually been here before, would you believe it, FOUR years ago with a friend, but we went in January (the Canaries are hot all year round, so its perfect for winter sun ideas, FYI!) – the vibe was definitely different in July, but we’ll get to that.

Anyway, we went for 5 nights (not a whole week sadly, but I had to comply with my work rotas), but it was the perfect little break. I came back feeling totally relaxed and inevitably disgusted at the slap in the face we call reality. But still, even though I was back at work, I was doing so all bronzed and sunkissed, and we all know that anything you do – ANYTHING – is better with a tan, right?!

LOCATION
So, the hotel. Hesperia Lanzarote. Its a 5* property and its located in Puerto Calero, the cutest little marina town just set aside from the main bustle of Puerto Del Carmen, which is one of the main resorts. It really makes a difference to be in such a secluded spot. It was so peaceful all the time, and the hotel is just a 5-10 minute walk to the marina area, where there are loads of really good restaurants and bars, and a supermarket and pharmacy. There is also a selection of elite shops, like Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Lacoste. The entire atmosphere is just divine.

POOL
The island is volcanic, so the majority of beaches are laiden with jet black sand (the ones that aren’t are artificial), so always pick a hotel with a good pool offering, as you’ll end up doing most of your tanning here! The Hesperia certainly offers that, with 5 pools set among rocks and bridges, with a variety of islands and pool bars to swim around. Its a real wow factor pool area, to say the least.

IMG_0100

IMG_0375

Don’t get me wrong, the hotel was A LOT busier than in January when we previously visited, which is to be expected, but there was never an issue getting sun loungers, or the daily fight to place your towel before breakfast, which quite frankly makes me nauseous, and such behaviour belongs in Benidorm, if you ask me! The entire pool area, around all the pools is really open, and so there isn’t a prime spot to fight for. Anywhere you choose gets the sun all day, generally, so its a really nice and relaxed approach.

THE ROOM
When we checked in, around noon, (as our 7am flight from London Stansted had got in to Arricife at around 11.15) our room wasn’t quite ready, so we were told to wait until around three. We were given cards to collect towels from the pool lifeguard, and shown where we could change our clothes. I won’t lie, I was a little dissapointed that the room wasn’t ready, but I hadn’t gotten around to emailing ahead to let them know we would be arriving early, and I’m not a frequent summer traveller – I usually go at quieter times, and love winter sun trips, so I’m often used to hotels being empty and my room being ready immediately, so I really couldn’t complain. Around 2.30 we went back to the desk to ask if our room was ready, and it was (hurrah!), and my my my, it was definitely worth the wait. Our bags were carried to our room for us, and we had been upgraded to a pool view room, and were given a south facing balcony which got all the best afternoon and early evening sun. Our room was packed with upgraded amenities, like robes and slippers and toiletries, but the location was really the best part. We had been in our room all of 10 minutes, when we received a call from the Guest Relations Manager welcoming us to the hotel. About 10 more minutes passed, I was sunning myself on the balcony taking it all in, recovering from the 2am start we had earlier that day, when there was a knock at the door. A waiter was standing there with a platter of olives and mini breads with various toppings. He passed it to me, and left. I was baffled to say the least, assuming it was a mistake, until I saw a handwritten note from the Guest Relations Manager informing us that the platter was in fact for us as a welcome gift! The service really was impeccable.

IMG_0104

IMG_0090

IMG_0372

IMG_0468

IMG_0373

IMG_0374

FOOD
We took the Bed and Breakfast board option at the hotel as I knew the great range of restaurants nearby, though it appeared that the majority of other residents had booked All Inclusive. The breakfast was absolutely fantastic. I knew it would be, as it was last time, but there really was everything you could possibly imagine. Every type of cheese, bread, yoghurt, bacon, sausages, pastries, juices, teas, and fruit. The chefs were cooking eggs to your liking in front of you, and a the other end of the buffet was a pancake bar, also serving omelettes and grilled sandwiches. The only thing we could fault was that upon arrival you were seated by the host, and then another member of staff came to take your tea and coffee order. The first three mornings this ran smoothly, though on the last two mornings, we were completely ignored, and it seemed as though everyone around us was being offered hot drinks except us. Very minor moan, but quite annoying! Other than this, we couldn’t fault anything about the breakfast offering. It really exudes 5* quality. You can certainly set a 5* apart from a 4* based on breakfast, and this lives up to expectations.

IMG_0115

IMG_0359

IMG_0360

IMG_0361

IMG_0362

IMG_0363

IMG_0364

IMG_0365

IMG_0366

IMG_0367

IMG_0368

IMG_0369

IMG_0371

IMG_0154

IMG_0155

IMG_0156

Though we never got around to eating there, we heard very good things about the evening buffet dinner, where you could have various cuts of fresh meat all cooked to your liking by the chef at the open grill, and there were two other a la carte restaurants to dine at, but were very strict on booking times. If I’m honest, I found the staff at the El Risco restaurant to be quite rude upon our enquiry as to whether they had available slots one evening. It was 9.30pm, so I had expected it not to be peak time and that perhaps there would be a table, but we were abruptly informed that they only take four tables per half an hour. Instead, we got room service. This was just one evening that we had lost track of time and couldn’t muster the energy to walk to the marina, and we were also quite full, so just wanted something small. The room service was disappointing. The menu seemed quite limited, though does say if there is something else you would like, we will try our best to provide it. With that, we called and ordered a pasta carbonara, and a delhi sandwich. The pasta had four options of which style of pasta, and four sauce options. We selected tagliatelle and carbonara, but were phoned back later to say they only had penne, which wasn’t a big deal, it just seemed odd. The sandwich was listed as containing pork, but on the phone I had asked for chicken instead, but the lady seemed baffled and acted as though I had asked for unicorn meat instead, so we held out no hope. When it arrived, it was okay, but nothing exciting. On another occasion we ordered the chocolate fondant, which came cold and hard, so I went to reception and asked for a new one, which was slightly better, but still average. We also ordered beer, which came in glass bottles with no bottle opener, so we had to go and get those opened as well. In sum, the restaurants are great, but avoid room service!

LOCAL AREA
We tried a few restaurants in the local area of the marina. The Mexican restaurant was amazing – we had nachos and shared fajitas and enchiladas. It was full of flavour and really really tasty. We also had steak at Cafe Milla, which was really good, and we had pan friend chorizo for a starter. Delicious. Azure does great mains and snacks – we had coffee here on our first day, and a couple of milkshake runs throughout the week! (yes I have a weakness for shakes!). La Papardella served nice Italian food, though don’t be put off by the fact they insist on showing photos of the food on the menu. We had a tomato, mozzarella and avocado salad, followed by fresh pastas, and they were surprisingly good. Bad first impression, but good food and lovely staff. We became named the “Kangaroo Couple” upon our waiter seeing my boyfriend had an Australian bank card! We met friends who were also on holiday on the island at Buda Bar for cocktails, which is a cool chill out bar with sofas outside on the marina. Great Mojitos and Pinacoladas!

IMG_0348

IMG_0350

IMG_0469

All in all, it was a great holiday, made better by this amazing hotel. Despite a few tiny niggles, and the worst and slowest check in experience ever, its still one of my favourite hotels I’ve ever visited, and will definitely be going back as soon as I can!