slowing down canal sunset

Slowing Down

I can’t believe it has already been almost a couple of months since I launched the blog. Got everything set up in a weekend with the precious help of my boyfriend and have kept it going with regular posts since then.

The new Facebook page has been kept pretty much up to date to make it easier for you guys not to miss anything. And posts are out on Twitter as soon as I publish them.

My Instagram has been a priority lately and I am trying to post quality content on a regular basis. The old Snapchat is getting a bit dusty as I mostly use Instagram stories now.

More recently my photography has come into the spotlight. Out of the blue I got a proposal for my first photography paid job! This is a big deal for me and I am super excited about it.

After that I was invited to attend a photography meet up. My first one. You guys already know all about it.

I have been working hard to ensure I deliver the best possible service when I do that photo shoot. And who knows, maybe do some more after this one.

On my blog my posting schedule is at three times per week. Might not sound like much but when you do it properly and pay attention to the SEO, readability and finding the right pictures for each post it is not a quick process. Even though I love every bit of it I still have to manage my time and energy to do all that plus going to work five days a week.

From September I am changing my schedule on the blog to two posts a week. I will be posting on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Please bear with me while I try to find a balance between the blogger life and the day job life.

If you want to keep up with what I am doing on a daily basis you can follow me on Instagram.

To everyone at work that has come to me to tell me that they read the blog, a massive thank you! Your support is much appreciated.

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caipirinhas

London Friendships

London has surprised me with the most unique friendships and I am so grateful for this.

For some reason that I cannot pinpoint relationships happen differently here. Maybe it is the fact that you can find people from so many different backgrounds in London. From all over the World really.

It takes time to adjust when you come from Portugal. Where the way people think and act is way more uniform than here in London.

Some relationships are short-lived but others do last longer. Everything is fast paced here. And some will become long distance as not everyone stays in London forever. Actually not many people stay long at all.

Friendships didn’t happen until I started my first job in telecoms here. Back in September 2008. That job gave me three long-lasting friends.

One of them actually got me that job. And I only met him because of my blog (back when I wrote in Portuguese). Crazy to think how my life would have been so different if I hadn’t started a blog. Even though we don’t keep in touch that regularly we know we are available for each other anytime regardless of how long it has been since we last spoke. We have visited him in Madeira and more recently in Amsterdam and he has also come to visit us in London more than once. He has always been so honest with me and so supportive of everything I do and I love him for that. We had the craziest and funniest conversations ever back in the London days. I miss having him around.

Another one is a Sri Lankan born in Germany and raised in London. Super smart guy. We did a few Sunday cinema sessions at work. Had some crazy nights out. And even learned Portuguese history with him. He went to live in Australia for a while and we lost contact then. Last year we met to catch up on the last 3 years or so. And maybe it will be another 2 or 3 years until we meet again. But I am sure it will feel just right.

The last one is this so special and so stubborn Polish girl. She is like my external conscience. She is the best at listening and I think that is why she knows me so well. We had our fights back when we were working together. It was hard at times. Maybe because we were so close and because she is so stubborn too. We now have a less stormy relationship as we no longer work together. As she is living in Southampton we don’t get to see each other that often anymore. I miss having her around but I know she is only a train journey away from me and I can always count on her. She was also the first person I took back to Portugal.

I didn’t build any significant relationships on the following couple of jobs. Just got a few extra Facebook contacts and met some cool people in Sri Lanka. Guess the jobs were too stressful and I didn’t get the chance (or the time) to make new friends.

Now that I have been in the same company for a while I made new friends. Still, it took me about two years. I pretty much kept myself to myself at work until I met one of my best friends in 2014.

We bonded pretty quickly and I don’t even know exactly how it happened. We had some crazy nights out (mostly at the pub). Shared everything about ourselves with each other. Had great times together. Had our fights. Our relationship has been a bit like a roller-coaster. More drama in it than what I would like (she knows this) and we might not be as close these days but we still know we have each other anytime we need.

It was mid 2014 when a newbie decided to start talking to me out of the blue. He asked if I spoke Portuguese. I said no. He got confused and then I said I was joking. He knew a few words in Portuguese and has a holiday home in Portugal (in the middle of nowhere). We bonded over that I guess. Must have been as we haven’t got much else in common. We worked together for less than 6 months and even though he is not great at keeping in touch we do see each other every now and then. It is good to have a male friend as it gives me a good insight on how guys think. It is quite entertaining sometimes. Also it is refreshing to spend time with someone who I can just be myself with. No filters. He can always handle my honesty and I love that.

More recently I became really close to another girl. She is also a Gemini and pretty much like me she hates drama. Even though I was not always nice to her she was always nice to me and was there for me when I really needed a friend. She is one of those people anyone would be lucky to have in their lives. As soon as I realised that, I didn’t let her go! She was the first friend I went on holidays with (without my boyfriend) and we had the best time together.

There are more people who I value in my life since I moved to London but these ones I mentioned are the most relevant ones.

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pink smoke grenades portrait

My First Photography Meet Up

Meeting new people, being around strangers and taking pictures around more experienced photographers with real models was definitely out of my comfort zone.

Still, I went out by myself and headed to central London this past Sunday for my first photography meet up. Someone I used to work with told me about it so at least I knew one person that was attending.

When I reached Kings Cross there was already a crowd around the swing cage. I was super shy so I just waited for the only person I knew before we started talking to more people.

Everyone was super friendly and excited to be shooting models around London and also to meet new people.

We got asked to leave the meeting point by security and moved on to the next location. In central London any gatherings with a large number of people seem to be closely monitored.

The models spread around the place and started posing for the photographers. I walked around trying to get some shots of different models. They were all super friendly and great at posing.

I had never shot real models before and really enjoyed it. Even though it was a struggle sometimes to get a good angle due to having so many photographers around them.

There were colorful smoke grenades and fire flares so we could get some cool pictures of the models. Those were very popular so it was even more difficult to get good shots.

It was really nice to meet new people. Being out shooting all day was very tiring but I loved the experience and cannot wait for the next one. For now I have loads of pictures to go through and edit.

Big thank you to @uk.shooters for organizing it.

For more pictures taken at the photography meetup just keep an eye on my Instagram and check out the hashtag #ukp_summertime. Follow the model in this picture here.

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my street

Where is “Home”?

The romantic version will tell you “home is where the heart is”.

It is common for emigrants to say they are going back home when they visit the country where they were born. But is that really their home? Well, I can only speak for myself here.

The truth is, I am not entirely sure where home is anymore.

After almost 10 years living in a different country it would be bad if it didn’t feel like home at all.

London does feels like home. It is the home I chose because Portugal could not offer me what I needed at the time.

When I go back to Portugal I feel comfortable. It is a familiar place with familiar faces. I usually get back to the house where I used to live in. It feels nostalgic. I see family and friends, eat good food and breathe in fresh air.

But after a few days I do miss London. I guess I miss home.

Yes, after a while I will go back to missing the Portuguese blue sky, the Sun on my skin and the sand on my feet. But who wouldn’t?

Thinking further on the “home” concept I guess that home is where you are happy to be when you feel vulnerable.

I was given the choice between London and Portugal to go through a rough time (health wise) and I chose London.

Looks like London is my “home”. At least for now.

fog in Lanzarote

What to do when your partner is made redundant?

What to do when your partner is made redundant? Oh well, I booked a bunch of holidays.

For the non UK readers being made redundant means you are going to be unemployed as your services are no longer required. It can happen for different reasons. I might cover this redundancy thing in another post at some point in the future.

We knew what was about to happen for a long time but it was not until most recently that we found out the exact date. The normal thing to do, I guess, would be to save up to be ready for hard times. As you never know when another job will come through.

The thought of saving up did cross our minds at some point but we didn’t actually do it. Instead we kept doing everything as usual.

When the date was set I started planning a two week holiday straight away. No, I didn’t book anything crazy expensive. But I saw it as a good opportunity to go explore a new place and to rest since he had the time off anyway. He had worked in the same place for way too long so a good break was a must.

A new job did take time to come through. Even though he got one on the first interview the start date took longer than expected to come. In the meantime we went on two extra holidays. We had my birthday to celebrate and later in June our anniversary. Both great excuses to go away for a little bit.

No, we are not rich. But we do manage our money quite well or at least I like to think we do. All three holidays were great and now we are back to business as usual, as in we both have to book time off from work.

Cactus Lanzarote

Drama

I like it on TV. That’s about the only drama I am happy to welcome into my life. Of course there is always the inevitable drama and I have no choice but to deal with it.

Anyone that knows me well enough is aware I do my best to avoid drama. If that drama is going on away from me, as in in someone else’s life (someone I don’t care that much about) I am cool with it.

But please don’t make me deal with your dramas and please don’t bring it into my life. Not that I don’t care. I just don’t know how to deal with it. How to make it better for you. I will probably try and fail. Well, at least I tried. I guess that’s something. Right?

I know, sometimes it happens. And you can’t do anything to avoid it. I get it.

But don’t make a drama out of everything and anything. Please. Life is too short for that. I will not care at all and it annoys me.

If the drama is in my own life then I’ll try to deal with it myself. Sometimes as if it was a maths problem. I tend to be more logical than emotional in difficult times.

In the rare occasion of you being aware of it please don’t ask silly questions. Like, what now? It’s likely I already thought about that and hopefully figured it out.

Unless you have a brilliant idea to solve my problem just let me be. I got it. If I don’t I’ll ask for help. If I need help I will really appreciate someone by my side that is better at dealing with drama than myself.

Thank you to the few friends that have been there for me in the past and sorry to the ones I failed to support in their own dramas. I’m just not good at it.

bruges by night

Belgium Road Trip

I know, I know, super random. Definitely not your typical road trip destination. But I thought we could take exploring European cities to a new level. And we did it.

Throw back to a 5 day road trip in December 2014.

Instead of flying there as we usually do we decided to get the Eurostar to Brussels. Train journeys are not as tiring as flying so that was a plus of choosing Eurostar. We got a car at the station and after a couple of hiccups with the process we got out of there.

Driving in Brussels is not for everyone but thankfully we found our way out soon enough. We headed to Bruges where we were staying the first night.

airbnb brugesIt was our first experience with Airbnb. The house was massive with a cute little garden and a cat. Getting in was easy as the key was in a secret spot waiting for us. The only problem was that our hosts did not turn the heating on until later so we froze a little bit. After cooling down (literally) at home we headed out for a walk around Bruges (and for waffles). I would recommend Bruges for a day out only as I didn’t think there was a lot to do or see there (even with the Christmas market). Dinner was at Ribs ‘n Beer and it was delicious. If you are visiting maybe try to book a table as it seemed quite busy.

The day after we accidentally broke the house rules! We let the cat up in our room! The hosts were out but would be back at any time so we had to figure out a way of leading the cat downstairs again. Preferably without anyone getting hurt. Luckily he decided to follow me right before the hosts got back into the house.

AntwerpenOn the second day we headed East as we were staying in Genk the next couple of nights. You might think, why Genk? You probably never even heard of it before. Staying in Belgium is quite expensive so I browsed the map for less known cities and came across Genk so I booked a hotel there. That day trip was Antwerp. Totally worth a visit. Don’t miss the train station!

Our accommodation was in the middle of the woods and was quite a cool place to stay. Very modern and comfortable too.

The next day we mixed it up a bit by heading to Germany. It was our first time there. Cologne was not too far from Genk so we went to check out the famous Christmas market. It didn’t disappoint. As we were enjoying visiting different countries so easily we drove to Maastricht for dinner. We wanted to see a little more of Maastricht as we got there at night the previous day so we went back on the following day before driving to our next accommodation.

Ghent was our last stop.

Ghent cityMy expectations for Ghent were quite low. But it turned out to be my favourite place in Belgium. Full of history, beautiful buildings and bridges. And of course another great Christmas market.

The hotel in Ghent was the creepiest place ever! The pictures did not translate the eery energy in there. Big house on a quiet road, high ceilings and the friendliest most horror movie alike receptionist. We soon found out that not long ago the building used to be a mental health hospital as they kindly provided that information in a booklet left in the room. As that was going to make me enjoy my stay a bit more!

ribs in ghentWe got out of there to explore the city and had an all you can eat dinner of pork ribs. It was super delicious. Ribs are a thing in Belgium. If you like pork just enjoy it because they know what they are doing when it comes to ribs.

waffles with creamOn the last day we had breakfast in Ghent.  I had the most delicious waffle. We were chatting away at the coffee shop when the waiter asked if we were Portuguese. He had some friends in Portugal so he recognized the language.  We had a nice chat about Portugal and he even showed us pictures he took there.

Sadly the time to drive back to Brussels came very soon. The drive was supposed to be an easy one but we got caught up in traffic! Luckily we didn’t miss our train back to London.

I quite enjoyed Belgium and it is good choice for a quick city break in Europe. I would definitely visit Ghent again.

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