Category Archives: London Love

Why I spent £700 on an iPhone

Because I’m it’s worth it.

This should really be the end of the post, but I’m going to tell you why I decided to buy this beauty. I may or may not be writing this as justification to myself because $1050 Canadian dollars is a lot to fork up for a phone.

The brand new, pre-ordered, unlocked 64 GB iPhone 4S! I was originally going to take a picture of my own phone, but I got way too excited when I opened the package so I resorted to a stock photo.

Buying a phone straight out is pretty expensive, but my part-time serving job back home let me put bills aside for an unlocked iPhone. I owned an iPhone 4 but signed a 3 year contract so I was paying about $80 a month for 250 minutes, free evenings after 5, voicemail, unlimited texting, and 6GB of data (this included all the taxes and extra fees). I paid $349 to sign said 3 year contract and 9 months into it, I found out I was moving to England. I was forced to sell my precious phone as well as the contract, but I was free.

I awaited October 4th for many weeks. No iPhone 5 was announced, but I’m not bothered. I didn’t much care for a body redesign because I was perfectly happy with the body of the 4 (I previously owned a *cough* Blackberry). I couldn’t wait for a fast phone again! I was borrowing a Canadian friend’s unlocked and jailbroken 3G and as amazing as the smartphone was, it was still painfully slow.

So why did I spend an obscene amount of money on a phone? In my situation, it only made sense to buy a phone and have a Pay As You Go (PAYG) plan. I’m here until at least September 2012. Since I’m hoping to stay here longer (but am not sure if the pieces will fall into place), locking myself into a contract isn’t very smart. I advise you to look at the following chart:

Contracts here in the UK are 12, 18 or 24 months long. Having a contract for 3 years is unheard of. The monthly costs for all contracts includes voicemail/caller ID/system access fees/999 or 911 fees, etc., while the Canadian contracts rarely include them (I’ve managed to find comparative prices that generally include those features, as shown above. My “plan includes” just lists the major features).

Since I saved up the money and needed to be contract-free, the PAYG plan from Giff Gaff was the obvious way to go. For a wider UK coverage, take a look at this nice website that breaks down carriers costs for PAYG and monthly tariffs. I’m pretty excited I only have to pay £10 a month to be connected!

New toys make me happy.

By the way, did you know the word giffgaff is an old Scottish Gaelic one that means mutual giving and was chosen to fit with the principles outlined in the manifesto? Thanks Wiki.

Finally a tourist

Since my last post, you can clearly see that I haven’t been blogging enough. I would say, “oh I’ll get better” but I’m starting to doubt my own words. I do think I’ll improve slightly though, because school is now back in full force. Classes started this past week and being in class 930-5 every single day really limits the amount of time I have for a social life. That and it requires me to drink faster when I get together with friends ;)

I’m happy to report I’ve been taking many more pictures. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to post them (Flickr, Picasa, recommendations anyone??) so for now, they’re just on my computer.

I was finally a tourist last week! Because London had another summer in the last week of September/first week of October, we decided to make the most of it and be outside for as long as possible. A few friends and I visited Embankment and the South Bank where we had some drinks and people watched. These were some of our views:

Heading back across the river, one of our friends lead us to “Gordon’s Wine Bar“. Known as London’s oldest wine bar, you walk deep down into a cave-like ambience. We sat around candlelight, drinking wine and minding our heads. I returned happily twice more in the last week because this is what it looked like:

There was an outside garden part as well, but I preferred the awesomeness of the cave :)

The next day, I visited Trafalgar Square and the National Portrait Gallery in the afternoon. I think the pictures speak for themselves:

Borough Market is a very talked about local farmer’s market. I can see why, too. It’s only open on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays and it’s constantly busy no matter what time of day. The selection of foods is fabulous and you’ll find many locally grown fruits and vegetables, sweets, CHEESES, meats and beers. Yes, there was even a beer booth. I thought Edmonton’s market was amazing, until I met Borough. Consuming alcohol on the streets is not forbidden here (in fact, it’s a norm), so I purchased myself a beer whilst shopping around. Favourite places? The beer booth and the cheese store :)

I wish the market wasn’t so busy on Saturdays (it’s a tourist trap)… I’d go back every weekend for fresh goods if I could!

I’m glad I’m taking my camera around more. I feel like a tourist pulling it out all the time but hey, how else am I going to remember all I’ve seen? Memories fade, but pictures last forever!

I went to the beach last weekend, but that will have to wait until the next time I blog.

The ten day mark

There are four things I’ve realized over the last ten days of living in London:

  1. Time is flying by way too fast (and being constantly on the go isn’t helping).
  2. I do not take nearly enough pictures.
  3. I am not blogging like I said I would.
  4. Do not underestimate the power of friends.
#1: I don’t think I can do anything to remedy this, as the whole situation is still pretty surreal to me. I’m living in one of the most exciting cities in the world and it just hasn’t sunk in yet. I will remain busy over the next year, but I’m also going to enjoy what I’m doing and do the whole “live in the moment” bit. Still working on that one.Upon arrival, I sat in my room (pictures coming in another post). I sat at the desk and didn’t know what to do with myself. I looked around and nearly cried. My room is SO SMALL compared to what I’m used to, but I’m told this is a typical student dorm. I wanted to go on the internet, so I promptly pulled out my router and connected myself. I felt a little better. Skyping with a friend made me feel a little less lonely, but I was sad to see him go. At this point, I really wanted a shower, but I was not provided with towels. All the stores had closed so I was forced to go down to the dining hall in my travel outfit. I sat and chatted with some people but went back to my room to decide if I really wanted to live here. Part of me wanted to run back to my parents and quit school before it even started, but I stuck out. There was a meet and greet at the bar in the basement of our hall (score!) and I found a friend with an extra towel!!!! I showered well that night. As did my floor:


The picture doesn’t do it justice, but I promise you there’s about one inch of water on that floor!! My shower curtain is far too short for the shower, so I’m constantly wiping that floor. This can’t be healthy.

I met RD the next day and we decided to go to Ikea together. This was a brilliant idea because I ended up buying so many things, I needed an extra pair of hands to help carry it all :) I spent the next few days “personalizing” my little room and settling in.

Over the first week, I felt very lonely. I didn’t think I would because I have a natural ability to make friends wherever I go, but I did. So when CX and SC (previous English friends) suggested I meet up with them one night, I immediately accepted. And what a saving grace they were. It was really refreshing to see familiar faces and I felt very liberated that I could be myself – no “best foot forward” attitude that everyone seems to do when meeting new people. We drank, ate, drank some more, went shopping for my new wardrobe, talked, and drank even more. Friends can make all the difference in the world.

In fact, CX and SC made me miss LB a lot, so I booked a trip up to Northampton to see her (and the other girls of course – SX, VI, SS, LD, you are not forgotten!!). LB helped me with some necessary shopping, we had a girls night, went out the next night, and recovered on the Sunday. Can I just say that these girls rocked my world? They really made me feel a little bit more “at home” and I am so unbelievably thankful to have them in my life!

#2: A few of us went out on Monday night (what’s a school night?) and only MD brought her camera (I’m still in need of a clutch… oh darn, I have to go shopping again). Looking at the pictures the next day made me realize how important “capturing the moment” really is. Memories fade, but pictures last! I’m vowing to take more pictures from now on, no matter how touristy I look.

#3: This long post is evidence enough. I’m not even adding as many details as I’d like.

#4: Again, I don’t think I need to reiterate how important my friends have been to me in the last couple weeks (HE and GM I’m looking at you too!), but I’ll leave you with this quote: “A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”  (Grace Pulpit)