Moving to London!

Flying into London

“Moving to London is a chaotic & rewarding experience, full of  success and false positives but if you survive it will be worth it”.

 

In the past (and I’ll continue to do so in the future) I’ve used this website as a place to share my view on places I’ve visited & events I’ve been too. I enjoying writing, I enjoy story telling and I enjoy sharing my experiences with other people. If you read my blog regularly, follow me on Instagram or watch my YouTube videos then you’ll know I post things in a pretty random order.

That’s generally because I don’t keep my postings up to date with my actual life and while 99% of my life is boring, the other 1% contains fun, interesting, cool things like moving to London.

Moving to London - My story of flying 18,000km to the other side of the world
Flying into London

Since moving to London, half way around the world on my own with no local support team is as about as interesting as my life gets right now, I thought I’d share the journey. Not only have I done this, but I’ve also done it alone, forging my own path as I go. It’s not the easiest route, it’s not the route of safety but I believe it is the route that will eventually make me proud of the work I put in.

Flying 18,000 km for a new life

It’s not all tight-rope walking over the Thames, I guess I have a safety net if things get really bad (I mean I definitely have a home based safety net, thanks mum & dad!) but because London is an OE supercity for New Zealanders, a strong community bond has formed to help each other out.

There are downsides to going it alone. This was pointed out to me by a friend when we first met. She moved from NZ to Aberdeen, Scotland because she was moving to the UK for the experience, not to hang out with fellow kiwi’s in London. I’m with her on this idea. I like the fact that the kiwi expat community is there, but I’m here for the British experience, not the expat experience.

I will concede, I’ve fallen back on the community’s help but I’ll discuss that later (Even this post is behind).

Why Moving to London was right for me

London has always had a special place in my heart. I first came to the city when I was seven, I returned 14 years later with the intention of moving. I ended up travelling for a few months before returning home. A year later I decided that London was where I really wanted to be. The strange this is, I don’t know why. London is such a diverse, chaotic city that adjusting can be a challenge. Especially once you see how things are done. I already miss the simple ways things are done at home like getting a bank account. But it’s a rewarding experience in terms of the people you meet, the places you see, the melting pot of cultures you get to experience all in one place,

First time in an AirBnb

Look, I might be a millennial and I might be under 25 (just) but until a month ago, I’d never used AirBnb even though I travelled extensively in 2016.

Seeing as less than a week before arriving in London, I still did not have accommodation and hotels were more expensive than bitcoin, I hit up AirBnb and found a nice place in Little Venice. It was advertised as having canal views, What more could you ask for!

Arriving into Heathrow meant another super long walk from terminal 3 to baggage and customs etc. You know, just the thing you want after a seven hour flight. Customs was chill just wondering if I already had a job or not. It was great because I’ve heard horror stories of people being integrated even though they hold a valid visa. Then a little bit of panic set in as I waited and waited for my bag. Each time the belt did a loop and I saw bags go around that I’d already seen, the dread built up inside me more and more. After a while the sign changed to say “all bags delivered”, yet my bag was nowhere to be found. Now the panic was real. Was my bag missing?

I waited a bit longer and eventually my bag did appear and I was able to set off towards the train.

I opt to take the Heathrow Express to and from Heathrow when travelling for three reasons, especially if you are staying near Paddington Train Station. One, its cheaper than a taxi. Two, there’s no traffic. Three, its way easier and quicker. If I’m just heading out towards Heathrow or going there for a reason other than travelling, I’ll take the Piccadilly Tube Line. I find that at the start it’s fine to travel on but by the time you’re going under central London, the train is far to packed for any sort of comfort.

Of course, the AirBnb did not have canal views but who honestly expected that… Otherwise it was fine and as advertised and expected. I had seven days there and seven days to sort my new life out.

Little Venice, London
Little Venice, London

Step 1: get my phone sorted

Last year I got myself a sim card so I had data and minutes etc. All I needed this time was find a Three store so I could get a top up voucher.

On the way to get my phone voucher, I topped up my Oyster card that I got last year. The Oyster Card is used to travel on the Transport For London (TFL) network.

My nearest Three Store was Bayswater, one stop on the circle line from Paddington. Actually buying the voucher in store and topping up my account was easy. The only annoying part and this is 100% a first world problem. I didn’t have a UK credit/debit card so I couldn’t do it online.

Step 2: A place to rent

The next step to moving to London was find somewhere to stay after my seven day AirBnb finished. On a limited budget, on my own and facing off against everyone else, I had to find a place to call home. Read about renting in London and how I ended up wishing the busses in London were silent.

Follow me on Social Media

Twitter: @calvinlaurenson

Instagram: @calvinlaurenson

Instagram: @calvinphotographs

Wellington’s America’s Cup Parade

New Zealand likes a good parade to celebrate sporting success and usually that starts as a one off in Auckland. Before long, Wellington are shouting from the roof tops for their own parade before Christchurch and Dunedin join in.

America’s Cup was no different and Wellington (like it always does!) got it’s way. Whats better is that while Auckland was wet, windy and miserable. Wellington laid out the sunshine and showed its best side.

I got to the parade route nice and early, setting myself up at the start with a perfect uninterrupted view looking directly at parliament’s gates where it would all begin.

I mainly focused on the photography side of things for this event but I did manage to juggle three cameras and get a few small clips.

New Zealand's parliament grounds
New Zealand’s parliament grounds

Are you a Social Media Influencer?

Are you a Social Media Influencer

I recently read a post online that talked about being a social media influencer. Specifically how everyone with an Instagram account is a ‘micro-influencer’. This isn’t anymore true than you being a car salesperson because you like your car.

The problem is, what defines a social media influencer?

At what point does a person go from ‘another social account’ to ‘influencer’ and what level do they fit in?

According to pixlee.com, a social media influencer is a

“user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.”

So what is a ‘large audience’?

Globally, regionally and locally, ‘audience size’ has different definitions. And over time, the definition has changed as more and more people have jumped on social media. It’s all about numbers really.

Exploring the Aran Islands, Ireland by Horse & Cart

Sophie meets our horse Amber

There’s nothing more romantic than a horse and cart ride through a snowy mountain forest. If the Aran Islands were a snowy mountain forest and I was on a romantic ride instead of a Contiki bus tour.

However, if you do get a chance to visit and explore the rugged islands, make sure its by horse and cart and not by bike. Also, your body will thank me later.

Bike riding is the recommended option for exploring the Aran Islands
Bike riding is the recommended option for exploring the Aran Islands

Originally, on the recommendation of of tour leader, people were going to hire bikes and ride around the island. As we were getting off the boat, we spotted horse and carts. It turns out that they were for hire for tours of the island.

Sophie meets our horse Amber
Sophie meets our horse Amber

For €80, four of us got a private tour of the island with our horse Amber and guide Martin. Martin did warn us that Amber was young and still learning so she might be a bit slow and cautious of cars.

Us and our horse Amber
Us and our horse Amber

During the tour, Martin told a few story’s about the island and its future including his own family and specifically his son’s travel to Dublin for sport. Even pointing out a few houses that we could buy. We were thinking and to be fair, I’m still thinking!

The only problem at the wharf was we had no money, Martin was fantastic and took us anyway. Myself and Maddy also wanted coffee and so Martin stopped at the shops so we could grab coffee and money. Amber even slowed down so we could drink.

Looking at a house with Maddy and her coffee
Looking at a house with Maddy and her coffee
Aran Islands
Aran Islands

Half way through, Martin dropped us at a couple of buildings and said he’ll pick us up in an hour. Sophie and I looked at each other with a confused ‘what the hell’ face. There were two buildings in the middle of nowhere.  Turns out there’s an old fort called Dún Aonghasa at the top.

The walk to the fort
The walk to the fort

The walk each way was 20 minutes and on the way was a man selling flax baskets. They were pretty incredible and his sales pitch was going great until he asked where we came from. Once he found two of the group were Australian, he said “Oh, you can’t buy these because you can’t take them home”. That ended that shopping trip and we continued to the fort.

Dún Aonghasa
Dún Aonghasa

The old fort sits high on the cliff with amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean.

The view from Dún Aonghasa
The view from Dún Aonghasa

 

Fences at Dún Aonghasa stopping you getting in without paying
Fences at Dún Aonghasa stopping you getting in without paying

This place was fascinating, if only because the fences seemed to be in the wrong place. They stopped people getting into the fort without paying but not from falling off the side of the cliff to the water 100 metres below. Amazingly, no one has intentionally died there.

Sitting on the cliff edge
Sitting on the cliff edge

So after spending time enjoying the views and causing my parent stress by sitting on the cliff edge, we returned to Martin who then showed us an old stone church.

An old church Martin showed us
An old church Martin showed us

The final part of the tour took us back down towards the town around more of the island. We passed the only beach on the island that’s patrolled by surf life savers during summer. We also spotted some seals which Martin seemed far more happy about than us.

The only beach in the Aran Islands with a dedicated surf patrol
The only beach in the Aran Islands with a dedicated surf patrols

The tour lasted about four hours from memory and Martin dropped us back in the centre of town. One of the best things about the horse & cart tour was the blankets. Unlike the bike riders who had to ride up steep hills and got caught in the Atlantic weather changes. Amber did all the work putting in the horse power and Martin was well prepared and had blankets for us to keep warm and reasonably dry.

Inis Mór town centre, Aran Islands
Inis Mór town centre, Aran Islands

After the tour

Once Martin had dropped us off, we had a wander though the Aran Sweater Market which the Aran Islands are famous for. Although none of us brought anything and instead we grabbed lunch and sat in the sun until it was time to head home.

More information about the Aran Islands

For more information on Ireland visit discoverIreland and to find out more about the Aran Islands visit aranislands.

Photos from Wellington’s LUX 2017

I talked the other day about LUX 2015 and how excited I was for LUX 2017. I decided to go on a Monday evening when Wellington’s weather was amazing. A few changes were made this year including a big one where instead of a path to follow, there were five precincts. The playground, Te Ao Marama, The Galleries, Urban Edge and The Circus.

LUX Wellington 2015

Light ball

Way back in 2015, LUX had it’s first light show around Wellington’s inner city and by all measures it was a success. Two years later and Wellington’s LUX festival is back for 2017. It looks like its going to be bigger and better than before.

I was going through my photos the other day and saw a folder called “LUX 2015”. Most of the photo’s I never posted anywhere or shared with anyone. So considering LUX 2017 starts in four days here are some images all the way back from 2015.

The Wellington Auto Show (Aka MTA100: car show of the century)

McLaren P1

For New Zealand’s Motor Trade Association (MTA) 100th birthday, they decided to host a car show in Wellington. It was wonderful although it’s name was rather long and a bit pretentious. Motor Trade Show 100: Car Show of the Century, see what I mean. But I loved how for two thirds of it anyway (one third was old cars) the layout, design and atmosphere was full international auto show.