Once I got back from Turkey, I called work and made sure I still had work to go back to, which gratefully I did.
The following weekend I went to Church with Suzanne and Bevan, and then we went to the France show which was at the Earls Court Exhibition centre - not far from my hostel.
The France show was a little pretentious, it was more aimed at British wanting to buy land in France - however, I did a reasonable job at pretending to be interested and making conversation with the vendors in order to access their freebies, such as lollies and cheese. I also managed to pick up several maps and things, and enjoyed watching a bit of Can-can dancing.
The following Thursday I went to the Redback tavern on one of my nights off, as it was their 17th birthday - so it was themed like a kid's party, with games like pin the tail on the donkey, pass the parcel, and food such as fairy bread and sausage rolls. On top of that there was the odd free shot of zambuka, and as per usual (apparently, honestly) they play toss the boss, ie Heads or tails, if you win it you get your drink free, which I managed to do virtually all the time, so I ended up paying only about £6 for about ten drinks. I got chatting to the bar tender who I always seemed to get (and then aimed to get as she was good luck) and it turns out she was from Hamilton, and her dad was actually a teacher from my high school when I was there.
That Friday me and my mate, an old workmate from swine flu, moved from our hostel in Earls court to a Hostel in Hammersmith, as we worked out that it was £17 cheaper a week, and we could have our own room, and be two stops closer to work.
The following week I caught up with Anthony - the Australian guy I travelled through Germany with - over a few beers and a pie in Shepherd's Bush, and heard about his travel through the rest of Europe and through Africa. From there I jumped on a bus to Fulham Broadway to catch up with Scott and Barish - our tour guide from Turkey, after a few beers there, we were joined by several others from our tour, and others from some of Barish's previous tour groups.
On the Sunday of the same week I finished work and headed straight for the Redback again, this time to 'celebrate' Australia day, (in other words, get free stuff) what I didn't consider that morning was the fact I was wearing my black t-shirt with an outline of New Zealand on it (albeit subtle) - however I didn't run into any trouble. I managed to get a nice big free burger before moving onto the Temple Walkabout, where they were having a Miss Bundy (Bunderburg - as in the Australian rum) competition
The following Wednesday night I caught up with Anthony again, this time with Mel, whom we had all met at Oktoberfest. Once Mel went home, Anthony and I carried on and were subsequently joined by my flatmate David - and hence had a rather good time.
The next day, after recovering, David and I headed to east London to check out his old haunts. It was interesting to contrast it with west London - but what interested me the most was the frozen canal I saw - as I realised then that that was the first time I'd actually seen a frozen body of water like that.
That Friday, due to a low call volume, I was sent home early (10.30am - I started work at 9am) which to be honest was annoying, barely enough work to cover the cost of my travel to get there and back, however the silver lining was I got to go to a free lunch that my Agency was putting on, had a good feed, networked, and then afterwards also managed to make contact with my other agents in Putney.
It was around this time that I found out that my campaign was coming to an end, and hence was given a weeks notice. However on the Saturday we got moved to the Toyota campaign - to deal with the calls that were coming in due to the accelerator pedal recall, which is where I currently still am.
That night after work I went to a friend from Kaitaia's birthday celebration, at the Southerner - which is the only real New Zealand pub in London. But because we'd told them we were coming for mince pies, and they had sold out of them the week before (Australia day) they ended up giving us a free beer and chicken and potato pie each for free. Because of that I was rather stoked, and proud to be a Kiwi, because that wouldn't tend to happen else where in London in an English pub (that is probably run by Polish LOL).
The following Wednesday I went to the Duke's headliners - a comedy club in the Duke's head pub in Putney. I especially went that night, as their was a ventriloquist I seen on YouTube called Nina Conti - with her little monkey.
The next Saturday was something I had waited all year for - The Waitangi day pub crawl - the previous year I had just missed it due to my visa not being active until the 12th of February. I started off at Paddington, and headed around the circle line, met up with my mate Scott at Bayswater, and carried on quite a way around, until about 3pm, when we decided to catch the tube to Westminster - otherwise we would miss the haka - I happened to meet a couple of girls who then joined me on the travels, but once I got to Westminster, we didn't see the haka, and I subsequently lost the girls accidentally whilst complimenting a Welsh girl on her tenacity of wearing a Welsh flag on the crawl. Anyhow, it turned out that Suzanne had accidentally found Scott when she came out of the tube station, so I went and met up with them again.
My darling sister, because she wants some nieces and nephews at some point, then walked with me to see if we could find the girls again, but of course we didn't, so we headed to Waterloo to catch up with Scott again. From there Scott and I headed back to his place and had a feed of Chicken and played Guitar hero.
The following day after work I headed to the Redback again, as being the day after Waitangi day, they were having a free hangi. It was rather late being served, however Suzanne's flatmate Rob and his kiwi girlfriend Belinda were there, so I had someone to hang with, rather than being no mates.
The following Friday ended up being my 1 year anniversary of being in London - I spent it working, and then had some drinks with workmates, before going to Suzanne's for a movie.
I had made sure work gave me the next two days off - because I took the attitude that they were going to get rid of me soon anyway, so I was going to do what I wanted and not sacrifice what I wanted to do just because they had all the power. So on the Saturday, I went to Cambridge on a bus trip with some friends. When we got there we went punting on the river, then went and had a pub lunch, and then had a walk around the town and campus, before watching/listening to the choir at Trinity college before heading back.
On the Sunday I went to Bath with Suzanne, Bevan, and their flatmate Luke. We checked out the Roman baths, had a pub lunch, then did two bus tours - although I did fall asleep on the second. We then went to the Sally Lunn bun shop - however, it turns out that real Sally Lunns don't have icing on them - actually really nice. I fell asleep on the train back, once back in London, I went to another thing that the Duke's headliners put on.
On the Monday after work, I rushed to Nottinghill Gate - to do a walking tour that I had planned to do the previous two Monday nights, however had not been able to make it due to work and the tube lines having delays - so I was determined to make it this time, I ended up running to catch the group up. It turns out a friend of my Kaitaia friend was actually on it too, so I hung out with her. Afterwards I went to Queensway to a all-you-can-eat pizza place for £5.45.
The rest of the week I worked 9am - 8pm except for Thursday - basically making hay while the sun shines - ie while I have work, making money while I can, and besides, the phones are pretty quiet between 6-8pm (Friday I didn't get a call for two hours). Saturday night went to Suzanne's for dinner, and Sunday had the day off, had a bit of a sleep in before going to church and then checking out Chinese New Year in Chinatown. Other than that, did some grocery shopping, went and had a roast dinner with Scott and Charmaine at a pub on Goldhawk road, and then home to do some washing.
And there we are - I've finally caught myself up to the present day. All in all its been a bit of a rollercoaster few months, mainly because of living in fear of not being in work the following week, and also because £7/hour doesn't exactly stretch very far - so really I've been breaking even after entertainment, but not really managing to save. Similarly knowing I've been here a whole year now, and not managing to achieve a great deal in terms of job success, or even moving into a flat as yet - because I've been holding out for job security. I was glad that I managed to go to Bath and Cambridge in one weekend, as it had been playing on my mind that in terms of England, I have only seen London, and Southend-on-sea, and Brighton in a year - in the same amount of time, I had seen all I wanted to see in Japan (less a couple of things I didn't get around to in close proximity) as well as a decent chunk of Asia. I know life's not a competition, but competing with your own expectations is hard work.
I definitely want to stay here until my visa is up - not ready to give up and go home, glad I managed to get some work that has at least kept me in the game.
All this has taught me several things about myself, not all good -
1. New Zealand is the best country in the world. I've been to 24 or more countries, I'm qualified to make that statement.
2. I enjoy a customer service role - I like being the solution.
3. However, I do end up wearing the customer's stress/negativity - and almost take it out on others, such as the Subway guys who ask if I want a foot long when I've specified 6 inches (and a foot long isn't anymore cost efficient)
4. I haven't actually solved my intense-ness/ high expectation of others issues.
Other than that, I'll finish this blog with a couple of observations -
a) They make good and cheap hot chocolate at pubs here (I've worked out that a Hot Chocolate is cheaper, and I enjoy it more than I do a beer - and its probably healthier too)
b) British struggle with the concept of flushing toilets.
c) They also seem to stop in the middle of the path of a doorway.