29 May 2011

Relaxing London - Need suggestions

I am a bit of a snob when it comes to massages, spa treatments, beauty days and such.  I have no shame in admitting that I will pay a pretty penny if that means I won't fall asleep with a migraine, a bothersome nerve in my leg or aches in my feet.  I've pretty much done the standard damage on everything from my knees down as a dancer, and I tend to carry a lot of stress in my neck and shoulders and get migraines on a regular basis.  Help, I'm trapped in an old woman's body!!  Because of this and the fact that everyone likes to be pampered from time-to-time, I'm on the hunt for a quality massage/spa location in London!  I also think in addition to my regular London posts and SPOTTED posts, finding places to relax in the city would fit nicely on the bloggy space.

Right now City Sports Massage in Highbury & Islington is the only place I'm considering but this is only based on Google Page Rank, the design of their website and that it specifically offers a sports massage - not this fru-fru oils and chakras and light pats that leave you questioning what you spent £120 on 40 minutes later.

Suggestions are welcome, reviews will follow!

Hootsuite Case Study - Audience Engagement

Not sure why this wouldn't let me digg it so putting it on the bloggy space.  WARNING this is a work related post. Turn away now if wanky marketing words and social media buzz phrases cause internal bleeding and rage.


Central London - SPOTTED - Elvis

Well, I didn't really see Elvis, I saw an impersonator.  It was quite random I have to admit and I'm still not sure I understand the link that was trying to be made.


Without much more information, all I can say is that a new salon opened in Fitzrovia called Czaro.  Elvis won't be cutting your hair, but from the launch party they were having it did look to be a bit swanky on the inside.  They invited us in for some of their snackies and drinks but I felt a bit underdressed and was enjoying the more casual setting of the Samuel Smiths pub we were in next door, The Champion.  Also spotted: Comic Sans (!) being used on a sign inside The Champion. *facepalm* I can't take things seriously when it's done in Comic Sans.
Yes, using comic sans over the age of 12 is amiss

Not sure if I'll be going to the salon but they did give me a voucher as an incentive.




27 May 2011

Central London - Soho - Bubbleology

I love bubble tea. I haven't really had it since I moved to London, but it was a regular part of my diet back in Columbus, OH.  I'm not sure how I found out about it, but there was some great buzz about a new bubble tea place opening in London called Bubbleology. I checked out the menu and planned for my trip there.

I've gone twice now, just to make sure my view of the place was correct.  The verdict: je suis not impressed. For a regular sized bubble tea it's £3.25, for a large it's £3.75 and any additional jelly/bobbas are 50p. Price-wise, fairly manageable. Service-wise, not worth the money.

Day 1: It was a hot day in London, a rare occasion so I made my way to Bubbleology for my standard flavour: Almond Milk tea. In the states this was typically served hot, but as it was hot outside I didn't mind having the ice in there. I went for the additional litchi jelly in my tea to go with the tapioca bubbles. Overall it was pretty good and refreshing on a hot day.  Unfortunately inside the shop seemed to be about as chaotic as the scientific decoration they have throughout the shop.  There was only one person manning the till and doubling up as the bubble mixer person.  It's fine that there was only one person, it wasn't busy that day, but there didn't seem to be any sense of urgency to take orders and make drinks.

Day 2: The heavens decided to open up and piss down on us Londoners, so comfort food was on the list of desires.  I wanted soups and warm drinks and a blankey to snuggle in while we waited for the rain clouds to go away. I thought that Bubbleology needed a second chance - maybe they were just having an off day before. This time it was heaps busier and there were three people working; A manager that spent his time wiping down the work bench about 20 times, a girl that was taking orders and making everyone's drink wrong and another girl that didn't do anything at all but walk around and finally take the long queue of orders at the last minute. I decided on a large Almond Milk tea this time but I wanted it warm (as I saw someone else ordered a warm drink) and I added mango jelly instead of litchi.  When my drink finally came along (we spent a good 20 minutes in there) it was made with ice, which I specifically asked not to have and the tapioca bubbles that are standard with the teas were missing, I only had the mango jelly. I spent the extra 50p on the jelly so why were my bubbles missing?!  It really didn't help that it was still pissing down rain as well and just made the situation all the more frustrating.  Two times of not being impressed is enough, I won't take my chances on a third for some time now.

Bubbleology, while you seem quite friendly via your Twitter Account, and from the outside you appear to have your tea making game faces on, and the extra aesthetic effort put in to making it look as '-ology' as possible is much appreciated, you and your team are not quite ready to handle people like me, who expect quality when paying the price, as your loyal customers.

Bubbleology can be found at:

49 Rupert Street
London
W1D 7PF
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

www.bubbleology.co.uk/

Bubbleology on Urbanspoon


Chalkboard depicting the science of bubble tea

A bubbleologist

A very formulaic brew indeed

26 May 2011

North London - Holloway Road - Indian Ocean

My first North London discovery since revamping the bloggy structure!  This wasn't much of a discovery as I didn't happen upon it, but rather used the lovely Yelp app on my iPhone to find a relatively cheap place to eat around the N19 area.  I was meeting a friend I hadn't seen in a while for dinner so it had to be somewhere we could chill and talk.

Luckily it was found and we made plans to meet at Indian Ocean for 8pm.  The many reviews I came across online seemed to put them as a top notch Indian restaurant in the area.  Arriving fashionably late (the joys of getting out of Central in a timely manner), the first thing I noticed was the design. I suppose because I was actually looking for the place I was able to appreciate the effort they took in making it look like an Indian escape from the bustling city high street. I've walked past it so many times and never really noticed it before.

Taken from WhoseView.co.uk

When you walk in there's a reasonably large open seating plan and a wall lined with cosy booths separated by hypnotising cutout patterns. My friend had taken a spot in one of the booths which was perfect for our three hour dinner/catchup session.  The servers tried to make you feel like royalty even though the prices are made for the pesants, so that was appreciated as well.  They were quite accommodating to the fact that we spent the vast majority of our time talking and not spending much money, so I'll forgive one of the servers for hinting that it was time for us to leave when we had finished our meal about 30 minutes prior.

The detail in the booths

I'm not much of a curry eater, which I'm sure is some sort of living-in-England sin, and the reviews seemed to praise Indian Ocean quite a bit; but I would say for the price, this was a pretty good meal! I even walked away with some leftovers.  I've been on a coconut kick when it comes to my curry so I had a Murgh Korma while my friend ordered a beef dish with mushroom rice.  We were both very satisfied and it was a brilliant setting for catching up.

Indian Ocean - nothing spectacular but decent for the price. I will more than likely make my way there again if I'm in the area and craving a curry or showing friends around.

Indian Ocean Tandoori Restaurant can be found at:

359 Holloway Road
London
N7 0RN
Nearest Tube: Holloway Road

Indian Ocean Tandoori on Urbanspoon

Beef and Mushroom Rice

Chicken in a creamy coconut sauce


23 May 2011

West London - Wood Lane - BBC Television Centre

This weekend my friend invited me to the BBC Television Centre to watch a live taping of So You Think You Can Dance.  As a dancer, I was pretty excited to see this taping, but soon realised the dancing wasn't anything to be excited about.  Let's put it this way, if the UK dancers were auditioning for the US version, they wouldn't make it past the bloopers stage.

Anyhow, that's not the main focus of this post. I'm not much of a reality TV watcher, but seeing a 'live' taping of a reality show made me realise just how not 'real' it is.  I'm not even sure if the tears I saw from the loser were real. It was definitely 'recorded' in front of a live studio audience.

To start, they taped the group dance that comes on before the results show before the show even started. Did a few of Cat's lines then as well. Then we waited for ages and the actual show started. They did all of that and opened the phone lines for voting. We waited for about 30 mins (and I missed Doctor Who while we were there waiting!!) before they played the pre-recorded bits. The 'live' band was actually filmed the day before and then the people were voted off. But to be honest, she didn't really seem that sad in real life, the family didn't look that bothered. Did they know she was going to be voted off ages before it was announced? Was she just a really good actress? Oh well, the highlight was that John Barrowman was judging!!! 
I love you sir!

Here are the few photos that I was able to take, since they took our phones and cameras away from us before we even made it into the studio.





All ended well with a beautiful sunset at Willesden Junction

North London - Hollway Road/Holiday Road

Anytime I'm walking down Holloway Road, which, as I live in Upper Holloway I do on a regular basis, this gets stuck in my head.



Your homework children, is to go and watch as many National Lampoon's Vacation movies as you possibly can. Class dismissed

Central London - SPOTTED - Free Breakfast


Woohoo! I love free stuff. It was a very pleasant surprise to my typical grumpy morning commute when I exited Goodge Street Station and was greeted by cheerful people giving me free food.  Free is always good, it's probably the first word I try to learn in any language. I wouldn't be surprised if it was my first word in the English language. :)

Free brekkie
However, these happy-little-breakfast-waker-uppers didn't mention one thing: it was a soya based breakfast. I reckon most people would cringe at the thought of soya milk but I'm here to say, it really wasn't that bad!

Soya milk, soya cherry yogurt, 2 bags of Tetley designed for soya and some vouchers
I wouldn't go out of my way to use soya products, but it was a nice alternative to milk (which I don't drink very often...it doesn't do my body good ).  If soya lasts longer than standard milk and works the same in baking/cooking things, then I may be converted.  I only had one real issue with this package...


Tetley for soya?!? Really?  You need to make a tea designed specifically for soya milk? Je suis not amused, Tetley and co.

Are there any other soya drinkers out there that have tried Alpro and can give a better judgement? Leave a comment and let me know, maybe I'll give it a try.

Did you spot the Alpro team around London? Leave your spotting in the comments.

LONDON - Maybe it's because you're a Londoner

Cooklikemumdid did an excellent take on these adverts! I completely agree and couldn't stop laughing at this. Please God don't let me fall asleep on the 43, I've done it going out West before and ended in Willesden Junction though... :S


22 May 2011

Central London - Trafalgar Square - B&Q Free Tomato Plants

Earlier last week I came across a tweet saying there would be free tomato plants at Trafalgar Square. At least I think it was a tweet, or maybe a link to an article, hmm or word of mouth(?) to be honest I'm not even sure I really heard about it at all.

Unfortunately, working in marketing makes me get on a bit of a high horse and criticise campaigns.  I wasn't impressed with this one at all. I didn't know immediately that it was sponsored by B&Q, I heard flutterings of it on the web but [not]surprisingly, none of it was from the B&Q twitter account and when I got to the event the 'mob' I was expecting was no where to be found.

That's right they were trying to make this like a 'flash mob', but with tomatoes instead I suppose.  One of the hashtags going around was #flashgrow or #tomoatoflashgrow or...well I'm not sure about that either as there wasn't an official hashtag. It was sort of a sloppy execution in my opinion. When I arrived at Trafalgar Square around noon this was the 'mob':


I'm still not sure what the barriers were for, and why, if this campaign was mostly done through word of mouth and Twitter, there was no official hashtag at the event.  

There wasn't much information at the event either - like tips for first time gardeners or how to take care of your tomato plant.  Mine looked pretty sad to start with, but I didn't think the guy giving them away had much of a clue on gardening: He had his Nero cup of coffee sat in the same box that he was supposed to be displaying the B&Q tomatoes, we had to ask him to move it so I could take the photo

All-in-all, a sad attempt at getting people interested in something that could be a fun project this summer and an activity I've found many 'urban gardeners' enjoy doing. 

I suppose you could go to this link for more information, if it has more information to give http://projectdirt.com/profiles/blogs/flash-grow-come-and-get-a-free

Apparently these guys had something to do with it as well, and I would've like to know more about them http://www.capitalgrowth.org/

Oh well, it'd been a while since I walked down to Trafalgar Square so I at least got to see the Olympic Clock
The Olympic Clock, working 

West London - zOMG DOCTOR WHO!!

It's too bad there really wasn't an apocalypse yesterday, because I would've died completely happy.

EXTERMINATE! - A Dalek

I, unlike The Doctor, pulled to open the TARDIS

Wanky Word Cloud

As lame and overused as they are, I thought a word cloud would look nice up there on my bloggy space. I told you I was going to take this thing seriously! Once a month I'm going to update the word cloud, and hopefully words other than my love for cheesecake and cassata cakes will dominate the cloud.

But who knows, strawberries are smelling pretty.darn.good. in London this time of year which puts me in baking mode. I'm not even much of a baker, but when I do, it's delicious.

Speaking of delicious, apparently I can still have my delicious account, says Yahoo! So if you're interested in what I've been cooking and want to try, here are some recipes: http://www.delicious.com/osusmermaid05

UPDATED 29MAY2011: I decided the word cloud was never going to look the way I wanted it to, so I spent about an hour using wordle and changing the frequency to get the words that I think best describe my new vision for the bloggy space. I'm pretty proud of it!

20 May 2011

White Magic = Milk?

I'm not sure why, but every time I see this T-sign ad on a double decker I feel like it's telling me something racist.
Am I the only one that finds this ad awkwardly racist?

A bit of structure for the ramblings

I think the first rule of writing, as cliche as it sounds, is to write about what you know. Unfortunately, I have learning schizophrenia so it's pretty hard to pick one thing to write about. I'm still going to write about things that I love; politics, music, gigs, food/cooking, festivals, dancing etc. - but the things that I know right now are pretty precise.

To do this, I now have a trusty gear of writing items:
MacBook, iPhone 3GS and blank paged book from Paperchase

And photo taking thing:
HP R742
I'm hoping this helps me to track all of the things that I want to write about more (so long as I have it on me at all times). I have to get in the habit of using them, and that can be pretty hard when you haven't been doing or caring about it on a regular basis for a while.

Anyhow, structure is the name of the game, so I've had to decide what it is exactly that I know about and feel comfortable writing.  I love and know social media, I am pretty much the poster child for all things on the interwebs, so it shouldn't be too hard for me to write about that when it comes up. I love living in London, and I've always wanted to live abroad. Granted, I wanted to be on a beach in warm weather but I suppose the British Isles is as close as I will get to that. I also love people, in particular people watching and I tell you some of the best people to judge watch are those that live around where I do in North London.  So, I've decided I'm going to focus on the people, places and things in the area where I live - because it's what I know best.

I can go on for ages about why I love this bit of North London, but to be honest it all comes down to one thing: it reminds me of home. And by home I mean the place where I spent 8 years of my adult life on my own without my family, not the city where I just went to kindergarten - high school.  Even more, North London reminds me a lot of The Short North but bigger, and well, in London, England rather than Columbus, Ohio - which makes this a glorious place.

Since moving to Upper Holloway and out of bumfuck-nearly-Essex-Leytonstone I've been able to take the bus home which is a nice 20-ish minute ride rather than the 40 minute Tube ride.  On the bus I pass through some of my favourite places which will be the bits that I'll discover while living here and hopefully inspire me to write on the bloggy space.  Things you can expect, or at least the places that have caught my eye on the bus ride home: 

The Camden Town/Kentish Town bridge
Tufnell Park to Archway - once you get here everything looks a lot more local, i.e. there's the butcher, there's the guy that fixes your bike, there's the baker, etc
Hornsey Road
    I'm really interested in learning more about this area and seeing what it was like 50 years ago. It reminds me a bit of Lorain Avenue back in Cleveland. I also like how church steeples seem to depict the separation of the old villages.  Looking at the layout of cities/towns here, it's interesting to think how they could have been.  Today, everyone's rocking their Arsenal kit as they walk around North London, but you can see the history of the town beneath the modernity of its residents.  I've always liked the idea of local shops and cafes over chains so I'm really excited to learn more!!

    Plus heaps more locations of course, as there are plenty of other places to discover in these areas as well as the walk from Upper Holloway through Islington to Angel! I love it, I love it, I love it so much over here and I want to make the most of it while I can.

    And so, I leave you with a few cool photos from my daily scenery of Upper Holloway

    The church at the end of my road

    The view towards Archway

    More of the church at the end of my road

    Bridge over the tracks to my close

    Artwork on the bridge

    Artwork on the bridge, i suppose inspired by the train below the bridge



    15 May 2011

    Watch this space

    Radio silence for some time now. Planning for a theme on the blog. It will still be a lot of rambling of many thoughts - I am a jack of all trades after all, but I want to get one thing that I can talk regularly about. Some ideas are in the works and I should have them started up no later than start of June.

    Swimming with this Mermaid