Elbows of fury

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I was dancing with this gorgeous girl until… Bam!

Are you OK?

Yes, I’m OK… she said. Are you?

I’m fine. I’m fine. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it, happens all the time… I tried to reassure her. This was followed by an awkward pause as I looked at my hand after touching my face… I think I’m bleeding.

Oh, I was definitely bleeding. It’s hard to miss that fact if most of your hand is covered in red. However, nothing was hurting. I awkwardly walked towards the toilets to investigate the damage and clean myself up.

Nadya was a bit panicky as she walked beside me asking if I needed ice or something. I got to the restroom to have a look at the injury. There was an inch-wide streak of blood from my eye down my left cheek. I quickly commenced my washing operations. A chap next to me saw what I was doing and judging by his face which was best described as someone suppressing his gag-reflex, it looked bad. He was nice enough to offer to get some ice for me though. Another guy also had a look at the cut and rather authoritatively said “put ice on it NOW!”.

I’m not exactly sure what happened but I managed to do a spin right into Russia’s elbow. It happened within the first hour or two whilst out dancing. Her elbow hit right against the bone above my eye where the skin is really thin. It still puzzles me how a 20-something year old girl fits into the scene, but it happened.

Later as Nadya nurtured me – and she was absolutely stunning at it – I found out that she hurt her elbow too.

She was probably feeling very bad about the whole thing as she kept talking to me for at least 2 hours. Or at least it seemed that long. She actually made the experience quite pleasant – I guess every cloud DOES have a silver lining. As I was being pampered my friends got hold of the situation but didn’t exactly rush in to replace Russia… this was probably because of my big smile when my nurse held a piece of cloth soaked in rum to my beautiful face in attempt to disinfect. Anywho, she was wife material. 😀

Traveling back in time a few days… I landed in Barcelona around 8 PM on Thursday and had to get to Mataro for the ZoukDevils festival. I was very excited as I had an amazing experience there last year.

The kids were texting me as they wanted me to bring them warm clothes. They said the wind was cold at the beach bar. I found that hard to believe. This was Spain in July!!! All I packed were t-shirts and shorts… I had to improvise to find warm clothes. I took the big towels from the hotel and a jacket from Covanova’s suitcase after I had checked in to the hotel. I found the kids chillaxing at a restaurant near the beach party. We exchanged pleasantries and I managed to drink the worlds smallest cup of coffee.

The beach party was in full swing and we were able to dance a fair bit of zouk. The festival started on Friday with classes from 4 PM. I was fashionably late and did the last three hours of classes. I learned a few new moves and dancing concepts. After a bit of dinner, we danced the night away until 6:30 AM. I got to my hotel feeling as if I had just run a marathon… only to realize I had another 2 nights like that ahead of me. Bring it, I thought!!!

The next day I got fucked up by a Russian as you already know. I woke up with more than a cut near my eyebrow. My face was sore and it hurt to blink. The area under my eye was dark brown, almost black. I think the medical peeps would call it a bruise.

I felt quite sorry for myself and decided to go to Barcelona to suffer in solitude. I felt a bit shitty about it all. I didn’t need other people’s pity and wanted some alone time in a dark, cold and wet hole in the ground. To save my friends from me I decided to head out to Barcelona to do some sightseeing and soul searching.

I thought that I didn’t handle the previous night that well. Russia probably felt really bad and maybe it would’ve been better for her had I left immediately after the smashing incident. We will never know.

Anyway, I had a wander in Barcelona. There was no particular place I wanted to see. The city was just as beautiful as a year ago. I visited Sagrada Familia and Park Güell again. Everything was really nice and pleasant… I couldn’t help but to fantasize about moving to Barcelona. Maybe one day when I grow up…

My friends invited me to grab some dinner but I was too far away and declined… I don’t think I would’ve been very social anyway.

However, sooner or later I had to face reality. I got back to my hotel and made myself half decent to face the last night of dancing. I didn’t feel like going but decided to do it anyway.

I was watching the people dancing and prancing for a bit until The Savage One asked me for a dance. Otherwise, I would’ve been there standing for ages. My confidence was a bit low. I must admit I was a bit paranoid during the next couple of dances and was always on the lookout for elbows. Luckily I was able to dodge any further injuries.

I actually thought that the eye and bruise looked so bad that a lot of people would avoid me. However, that was not the case at all. Instead, girls were coming up to me for a dance – I’m that good. 😀 They didn’t exactly form a queue but walked up expectantly to get a dance out of me. The chicas were so nice! Faith in humanity restored! Not long after that I was the usual lean mean dancing machine again. It was epic!

I left Mataro and Spain with a big smile: the chicas, the music, the dancing was spectacular and I was there with an amazing bunch of friends. This was the best holiday I’ve ever had.

Besos,

Ivar the Salacious

A story about joining the rank of Lords to the beat of Despacito

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A big ball of heat hit me in the face when I got off the plane as 33 degrees of Celsius welcomed me to Split, Croatia. I made my way to the airport to wait for the rest of my mates who were traveling from Tallinn, Estonia.

I quickly found out that the airport was one of the smallest I’ve ever been to. I had 1.5 hours to kill, so I headed to the only restaurant on the premises. I noticed that hardly anything was in English and that the locals don’t speak English. However, I am a master communicator. Words are overrated. I said “Heineken!” and pointed my finger at the bottle. The lady had no trouble interpreting my foreign accent, delivered the beverage and charged me a fee. Success! I had made contact with the local tribe.

I was sipping my cold beer and browsed the internet on my phone. I quite like that now I can use my 5GB of data anywhere in the EU no questions asked without any extra charges – this has been a wet dream of mine for many years. Gone are the days of buying expensive Airport WiFi with a lousy dial-up connection. What a time to be alive!!!

I happened to find an article about the smallest countries in the world and discovered Sealand. It is an old oil rig/platform off the coast of England. It declared itself a country a few decades ago and it was possible to buy a variety of noble titles on a website. I of course have held Sealand in my heart of hearts for many years and jumped at the opportunity to become a Lord. In no time whatsover I ascended into the realm of nobility with a new title – Lord of Sealand.

They also posted me a nice official certificate with my newly acquired credentials. I’m sure many royal families world over will invite me for dinner and visits in the near term to discuss all kind of matters of nobility. Stay tuned!

Mah mates arrived and we headed out to collect our car from a dodgy rental place. We were staying in a “villa” which was a villa only in name. Our place was a flat on the fifth floor in a building which did not have an elevator. I look back fondly going up and down those stairs. I surely have a bubble butt now.

Fun fact: you can use a British 10p coin in the coin slot to get your shopping trolley unchained from the other trolleys at supermarkets.

Off to the beach we went!!! I made sure to cover myself in adequate amounts of sunscreen before leaving my air-conditioned temporary home. The beach was covered in rocks but that didn’t stop us from chillaxing.

Despacito was playing non-stop everywhere we went. The beat was so good it took old grumpy men back to an earlier time… A simpler time of their teen years where they were much more concerned about getting inside you than being effective when they’re there.

A quick swim in the beautiful clear water was in order followed by a short moment of sunbathing and repeat. After a while this got old. Luckily, I saw a big floating bag in the distance. Upon investigating the matter I found out its called a blob. It’s one of those things you can jump off into the water from. I could not say no:

Blob jump. It was way better than I expected.

A post shared by Ivar (@ivarthesalacious) on

The jump was way better than I expected. It cost approximately €5 and was worth every penny. I loved it!

It wasn’t just a “beach and relax” holiday. We went to see the waterfalls at the KRKN National Park as well. This was nice and quite pleasant as you get to be in the shade a lot whilst you take in the beauty of the land.

Once we had enough of Split, we visited Makarska, which is a much smaller city down the coast. This place was surrounded by massive mountains on one side and beautiful sea views on the other. Postcard material I tell you.

I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of people were smoking in public. The lack of consideration to the health of non-smokers became painfully obvious when we visited the Deep Blue club which is inside a cave. So many kids were smoking inside and the deeper I went the heavier the smoke became. I’m certain half of the people developed lung cancer in that establishment. I think they should change the name of the place to Cave Emphysema – much more fitting. I’m sure if the Croatians got their way, they’d be blowing smoke into babies’ faces on every street corner.

Towards the end of the holiday we decided to check out Sveti Jure – the local mountain top. We did zero research beforehand because we’re gangsta like that. As we ascended, we discovered how dangerous that road to the top was within the first 15 minutes. It was very narrow, windy and unforgiving – one mistake could easily lead us to fall down the sharp cliff edge towards certain death. I figured my travel insurance only pays out £10,000 in the event of death and there was nobody to claim it if I wasn’t around. As my life flashed past my eyes I realized I also had to get myself to a wedding in September and change all my correspondence to address me as Lord – the mountain was not worth the risk. We turned the car around at once and left Makarska for good.

The road took us back to Split. We enjoyed our last day in the Old Town embracing our inner tourist. Lots of photos were taken and we now feel like we had a proper holiday.

Lord Salacious of Sealand

Marathons, standing up and Ariana

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It’s been a few months since my last post… So, let’s catch up.

Paris, London, standing up and Edinburgh

Foolishly I singed up for three marathons. I’m a big, strong, macho-macho man (did you read that last bit in the Village People voice?… or is it just me) and surely I can do all three – no biggie.

Let’s start with Paris on 9th April.

The weather was sunny and very warm – massive improvement from London. I took the Eurostar train to Paris, which turned out to be much more expensive than expected. That’s because I forgot I had to plan time to grab my race pack the day before the marathon. Changing that ticket cost me exactly as much as a new ticket would’ve cost – about £60. Money well spent!

My hotel was a disappointment. Somehow I figured that if I pay £90 to stay a night, my hotel room would have a bath and wifi. I was proven wrong. Never assume, always check, trust nobody… especially when in a foreign land!!!

It wasn’t all bad. The race was very well organized and everything happened like clock-work. Without a doubt, the 57,000 runner marathon was the biggest I’ve ever taken part in. It was amazing.

I finished in 3:35:49 – I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be but hey… I made it to the other side of the line. I spent the rest of the day walking around in the city. I remember climbing some stairs, which was an awful idea, as my legs didn’t work properly – I actually called my mom half way through in an attempt to solicit some pity. #NewLow

Two weeks later it was time to run London. I was very familiar with this race as it was my second time participating. The biggest difference with Paris was the crowd. The entire course is full of people cheering you on in London – this was not the case in Paris. I’d like to think that this was because instead of cheering, people were running it in Paris. As a runner, the experience was better right here at home running on my familiar roads.

Right after crossing Tower Bridge (half way) I managed to hurt my leg (glute – that’s the ass muscle) and slowed down considerably. I spent the next two hours in pain. I did not enjoy this run and struggled a lot. It didn’t go as planned, however again I finished. It took me 03:43:45.

Following the race I made my way to get some pampering at the Lucozade “hospitality” event. To clarify, I won a spot in the race when I bought £20 worth of Lucozade energy gels and signed up for the lottery on their website.

That event was super fancy and way-way-way better than I expected. All the Lucozade sponsored runners (including me) got a chance to get a shower, a massage and grab some food/drinks in a fancy lounge with a Formula 1 race car as a prop. The car was in a see-through plastic box, so we could only drool over it as we ate and enjoyed a drink or two. It was really cool!

The next day I made my stand-up comedy debut. You heard that right. I wanted to sign up for intermediate level acting classes but left it for too late – all classes were sold out and I decided to pick something similar. A stand-up comedy class worked with my schedule and I went for it.

I didn’t realize we all had to do a stand-up comedy performance to a live audience in the final week of the course before I singed up. However, I paid the money and it was too late to back out.

We worked on our comedy each week – turns out there’s quite a bit of structure to it. One of the highlights was our “talent” show week where we had to present any kind of talent to the class participants. One chap played the guitar, another one was singing the cup song etc. My favorite was the guy who said he hurt his shoulder a few months ago but was going to attempt a handstand. Before the deed, he said “This might go horribly wrong”… we all laughed. Then he got up to do his magic and epicly failed at his handstand. He crashed down onto the floor, yelping in pain and holding on to his shoulder. We were all laughing, it was brilliant!!! Then after a solid minute of laughter somebody asked if he was actually hurt… and he was! We laughed even more. It was so funny. The laughter quieted down and I’m happy to say that the dude wasn’t hurt too bad – he ain’t doing handstands any time soon.

Back to my comedy debut. The venue was in Central London near Piccadilly Circus and we all got to invite friends and family. Therefore, it was a very easy crowd. The event was open to the public as well. Anywho… the place was packed – at least 70 people I would say.

I only rehearsed my script a few times. Therefore I was very nervous before going on stage. However, it wasn’t that bad. Sadly, because of the stage lights, I could only see only a few people in the front row of the audience.

I remember one black kid in the first row almost fell out of his chair with laughter after he was hit in the nose by my joke’s punchline. That was the best part of the night for me. Success! Ivar the Not So Terrible strikes victory!

It was a great night. I’m glad my friends came to show their support. Covanova actually flew all the way from San Francisco to come see me humiliate myself. #BroLove Not all my friends showed such devotion – a few canceled last minute because some lame BS excuse.

I had to grab a few drinks to calm myself after my performance as I was visibly shaking. It’s quite interesting – even though my bit was done, I was more nervous than ever before. The human condition remains mysterious to me…

Moving on. My third marathon was in Edinburgh on the 28th May. This was my first visit to Scotland and in all honesty I didn’t want to run. I was broken and not ready to run a marathon. I did it anyway. It took me 4:12:47 where I walked a fair bit. This is the second slowest marathon I’ve ever run and the one I enjoyed least. My leg was acting up again and now I’ve decided to call it quits for a month or so until it gets better. I’m tired of the pain and the same story/results after every run. I’ll focus on sitting on my ass, watching TV and getting fat instead.

By the way, Edinburgh is a very nice little city. The castle on the hill was really cool. Beware: the sun is evil in Scotland and it burns. I came back with a sunburn on my face, neck, hands and legs – like a proper tourist.

Ariana

I’ve been watching Ariana’s One Love Manchester concert today…. and it was beautiful. She is one of my favourite artists and did a great job with the show. Well done!

London Bridge is only 3 km away from where I live. I was at a zouk social near home yesterday when the terrorist attack happened. I didn’t think much of it and we carried on dancing as normal. The previous day I was in the very area of the attacks singing karaoke and getting drunk. 😀

Watching Ariana’s concert reminded me of a video I saw a few years ago. It was about an ultra-marathon runner who was asked what it feels like to run these long races. He jokingly said he feels like every step he takes is getting closer to achieving world peace, ending poverty and hate. I think there’s a lot of truth to it. I would like to think that every dance gets me closer to these goals as well. After all, zouk is the dance of love.

Keep dancing kids,

Ivar the Not So Terrible

 

Golden cracks

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First off, my blood pressure is fine – all within normal ranges. However, I still need to go back to see another doctor to get my form for the marathon signed. I know right… three appointments to get a bloody one paragraph form signed. In my opinion the NHS is a highly inefficient organization as I clearly explained to them that the sole reason why I’m there is to get a form signed. They, however, initially referred me to a doctor who wasn’t even a “proper” doctor – I think she was a registrar (whatever that means… she did examine me, so she must be some kind of doctor). Now, after a few weeks they tell me I need to go back again to see a real doctor. It’s a mess. I have nothing but negative experiences with the NHS and I hope their organization goes bust and burns down in flames. It’s such a hassle to deal with this level of incompetence. They’re also going to charge me £30 (probably to  cover their own ass in the scenario in which I actually die in the marathon) to get my form signed and it takes them up to 28 workdays to do it. If these guys are so incompetent I’m sure many people die at the hospitals here because of neglect, carelessness and rampant stupidity.

In other news, remember my three big exams back in December? You probably don’t, as nobody cares. Anywho, I managed to pass them all. I even got “merit” i.e. 80%+ on the difficult derivatives exam. That one was a real tough cookie… I’m very pleased. However, not a single fuck was given at work – these results are considered normal for me. Now I can add another badge to my collection – CISI Level 7 Diploma in Wealth Management, which means I am qualified to the chartered wealth manager qualification (think portfolio manager, investment manager). I expected to get a second diploma as well, but for some reason didn’t – I’m trying to find out why… So hopefully another diploma will follow up in the near future.

Otherwise, I’ve been banned at work from taking any further exams/qualifications. I’ve got too many and my focus should be on building soft skills – sales, negotiating, conversing, building trust/rapport etc.

Let’s talk Brexit. I recently had my 3 year anniversary in the UK. The reason I bring this up is because I had a client meeting. MR was a British citizen and MRS was an EU citizen. They were married and had a little daughter. MRS had been in the UK for 5+ years and applied for permanent residency. Guess what, she was denied. “Get back to your own country!!!” the UK government basically told her.  How about that? Stories like that aren’t just isolated cases, they are everywhere. I think this situation is inhumane and just plain wrong. I wonder what it’s going to be like for me if I ever apply to stay here longer – although I need to be here for at least another two years before I qualify to apply for anything. It’s not looking good.

I was a bit bored today and went to the British Museum – it’s only a 10 minute walk from where I live. There wasn’t anything specific I wanted to see… I just thought I should go. I always struggle with the concept of standing in line – to enter a museum!!! Of all places. I understand if there’s a line at Starbucks or at the Apple store etc – there’s usually something really good at the other end. But it’s a museum – full of old stuff mostly stolen from other countries…

Anywho I ended up looking at Picasso’s paintings. It was infuriating. The paintings are so bad that it’s so difficult for me to see why other people think he was such a great artist. I just don’t get it.

kitsugi

However, it wasn’t all bad. I found one exhibit which I absolutely fell in love with. It was a vase – a broken vase which was put together with gold. The technique is called kitsugi, where they use molten gold to piece together the shards of a broken object. I love the concept. Instead of hiding flaws, mistakes and cracks – this technique highlights them. The cracks are important, they’re there to be noticed and reflected upon. You can put broken things together and you shouldn’t be ashamed of the flaws and imperfections. I found it very inspiring.

This brings me back to my earlier paragraph. If Brexit happens, the EU breaks down, NHS goes tits up, Marie Le Pen wins, robots take over the world and Trump accidentally blows up a few countries (like many of his predecessors by the way) – I am hopeful that eventually we might get something beautiful put together again.

Mr Salacious

Posted in UK

Buzzing away in a damp bunker and singing Hallelujah

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Did you know that thinking about your death or mortality before a race improves your performance? That’s what I read in an article. There’s something about that thought which puts our brains into hyper-survival mode and improves physical capability. I will give this idea a go at my next racing event.

I didn’t just randomly start with the above in mind. In order to run Paris, I need to provide the organizers a form signed by my doctor which basically says that I won’t die half way through the marathon.

As a perfectly sane and rational male of the 21st century, I’ve been successfully avoiding the doctor for the last six years. Why see a doctor if I I’m invincible and can Google everything, right? And this time has been amazing. However, all good things come to an end.

In late December I surmised all my courage and dialed the local GP (General Practitioner – that’s what they call a doctor here) on my phone. I had to physically go there to fill in a form to register – it couldn’t be done online. I sort of expected to see a doctor once I handed in the application but they said it’ll take about a week to process it. Things aren’t exactly efficient here at the NHS (National Health Service).

Anywho, about two weeks later I found myself being examined by Dr K. That sounds a bit dull, so let’s call her Dr Dre. At first she was a bit puzzled about why I was there and why she had no prior medical data about me on the system. She asked me the same questions from the form I had already filled in – so much for “processing” my form.

I explained that I needed her to sign my paper so I can run in Paris. Dr Dre decided to measure my blood pressure instead. It was high. She did it again. High. And a third time. Still high. I had to come back next week. She didn’t sign anything.

I came back to see the nurse for a new reading. This time the blood pressure was lower but still high. The second and third measurements were slightly lower but not good enough. I had to book another appointment.

Today I went back to get a blood pressure thingy on my arm, which I need to have on me over the next 24 hours. It takes a reading every 20-50 minutes and buzzes and clicks as it does its magic. Each time it registers the reading and then the doctors can get an average over a day. The whole idea is to rule out white coat syndrome where my blood pressure shoots through the roof whenever I see a doctor or nurse. If it’s still high even after the 24 hours they will need to do some further more invasive tests. By the way the device scares the crap out of me every time it starts – I’m rather skeptical about whether this device will do the trick for me.

Obviously, the moment I got my new toy I went off to my acting class. I thought the other kids would never notice… The class started as usual with all of us sitting in a circle sharing ideas of any good or bad acting we’ve seen in movies/plays/theaters to share experiences and make recommendations. Then we had to put the chairs back to the walls. That’s then it started buzzing – I need to sit still and try to relax during the measuring. And the bloody thing doesn’t get its reading on the first go, or the second, or the third. It stopped making noises after the fourth try and by then everybody was staring at me thinking why is this guy ignoring the teacher’s instructions. I explained it quickly and they all now probably think that I’m dying or something. My flu and occasional coughs didn’t exactly do me any favors.

Let me fill you in on the flu as well. I ran a half marathon when it was nice and cold outside – around 2 degrees. I was sick before the race and as a completely reasonable human being I thought that a little run can’t make it any worse. Oh boy was I wrong. First of all it was a fairly crappy finishing time (1 hour 34 minutes and something) which was followed by a week of coughing my lungs out. 10/10 experience, totally worth it. 😀

I know what you’re thinking… acting!!! Where did that come from? Well, boys and girls, it gets better. I didn’t add just acting classes to my repertoire I’m also learning to sing.

The seed was planted when I started my new job as a financial adviser – a job which is quite different from anything I’ve done before. I started singing classes to add vocal variety to my speech – this will hopefully make it more interesting for my clients to listen when I talk and help me have more “presence” with my voice in meetings. The acting classes have a big improvisation component and client meetings have a big element of that – I need to learn to think on my feet, also entertain and make it an enjoyable and memorable experience.

In all fairness I thought that acting and singing would make me very uncomfortable and that it would be a massive move out of my comfort zone – but it’s not as bad as I imagined. Yes, we do things which are uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing but it gets better with practice.

My favorite part about the acting classes is watching the other kids perform an impromptu sketch. They always mess it up and it’s hilarious. The course ends with us performing a small scene where two of us are in a bunker and the world has ended due to a nuclear war.

Singing is weird. It’s not something I normally do but I quite enjoy it. I even made a YouTube playlist of videos which have lyrics on them so I can sing along. My current favorite is the Hallelujah song from the movie Shrek. A close second is Let It Go from Frozen (although it’s quite a tongue-twister). I sing when I’m sad and then I’m a little less sad. It’s amazing how that works.

The Protein Deficient Vegan

My first third finish

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“All sub 20 minute runners step forward to the starting line!” the man said into the loudspeaker. I only saw one chap move forward. Then “all sub 25 minute runners step forward to the start line” and a few people edged closer to the line. “All sub 30 minute runners step forward”… that’s when I realized I should get myself way in front of everybody. And I did.

The 5K race started and I was second about 80% of the time. It felt wrong. How could I be second? I’ve never been second, never in front of the pack. Never. It was a new experience for me and it felt good.

The morning was cold (+2 degrees) and a bit windy before the Victoria Park 5K/10K/half marathon event. Breathing was unpleasant but I knew it was only a fiver… it would all be over in about 20 minutes. Surely I can keep my pace up for such a short distance I thought. About a kilometer before the finish one chap ran past me and I finished third. My time was 20:19.

third-place

Yes, it wasn’t a very competitive race but finishing third was a very pleasant surprise. It’s especially true because this morning I didn’t really feel like getting out of bed. I’m glad I did.

Instead of going straight home I decided to watch other runners finish.

I love watching the fat and unfit people run. They are slow, in pain and tired but they keep chugging along – one step after another. I see hope in their faces, followed by relief and a sense of accomplishment once they cross that line. Some were greeted and congratulated by family, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s quite interesting to watch the tired faces turn into smiles and chuckles. You see a lot less of that with the fit and average runners.

I’ve got a few more races planned for the year. Stay tuned!

The Dirty Vegan

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year!

2016 is behind us and it’s time to reflect.

hny2017

My most memorable events were:

January. I fell in love every few minutes at the Warsaw Zouk Libre festival (Poland). The girls were absolutely stunning! I still remember that Irish girl… I left Poland with a broken heart.

February. I spent quality time with Benn and Em in Bansko (Bulgaria) and mastered downhill skiing and snowboarding on the kiddie slope.

March. Moved house and got massively screwed by the renting agency.

April. I lost a friend to suicide and ran the Virgin London Marathon.

May. I was dancing and prancing at the Prague Zouk Marathon. I haven’t washed my eyes since seeing that hot naked model stroll through the city that day.

June. I became Fellow of the Personal Finance Society and instead of calling it quits on all the studying I took another two big exams and passed them. Once a student, always a student.

July. I had my 10 year high school anniversary and later that month I fell in love with every other girl in Barcelona (Spain). I had a magical time at the Mataro Zouk Devils & Friends festival. I also discovered my new favorite holiday activity – drinking sangria under a massive umbrella at the beach.

August. I quit my job.

September. I ran another marathon in some park in London and took part in a flashmob.

October. Both of my housemates left me and new ones moved in.

November. I started working as an independent financial adviser, which is exactly what I set out to do almost three years ago when I started my first job as an admin assistant at that very company.

December. I took another three big exams but don’t know yet if I passed them or not.

I think it’s been a relatively good year. But there’s more. I’m going to let you guys in on a little something. I’ve been writing a list of all the good things which have happened to me throughout the year. In fact I started back in October 2015. I don’t remember where I got the idea from but it started out with a positive comment about a blog post I wrote (Thanks Kadri, you were the one who set the ball rolling for me). I kept adding things daily and before I knew it, looking out for the good things in my life became easier and easier. My friends, colleagues and housemates keep getting mentioned over and over again.

Here’s a sneak peak of the list:

  • Hot Chocolate helped me upstairs to my room when I was too drunk after the advisor lunch. 15 Dec 2015
  • Note about rat poison on the floor and that I shouldn’t eat from the floor 16 Dec 2015
  • Meeting Gerli – unicorn zouk dancer 2 Feb 2016
  • Not dying on the mountain 26 Feb 2016
  • I cracked up when Resh fell over at her desk at work today. 8 Mar 2016
  • Amazon paid the rent and deposit and we’re not poor anymore. 9 Apr 2016
  • Val told me there was one guy [at the dancing venue] who asked her “have you seen this guy? He’s amazing!” whilst he pointed at me. 5 August 2016
  • Covanova bought me a Monster before we went flashing 8 August 2016
  • Role playing with Hot Chocolate was hilarious. He is such a “dumb” client, I laughed my ass off when I explained him what an annuity was whilst using a magic pen analogy 17 August 2016
  • I ate a full tub of vegan ice cream (750 ml) just moments after the delivery guy handed the bloody thing over to me. Nom nom nom. 22 August 2016
  • Covanova and I will share the hotel during ZoukFest. We can share the shower again, just like in the good old days. 1 Dec 2016

I’m all smiles after going through the entire list just now. I’ve never actually read the entire thing. It’s well worth it.

I hope you all had a good year and I wish you all the best – especially to all the people who contributed in a positive way to my life. Love you guys!

Happy New Year,

The Vegan

The newest Fairey in town

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It’s been a long time coming…

They announced the acquisition of my employer back in April. This created a fair bit of uncertainty and tension at work. I wasn’t worried because good paraplanners are in great demand in London. However, just in case, I started to browse job ads – you know… I gotta take care of myself.

I was really looking for an improvement to my current situation (more money and career progression) and didn’t want to simply change employers whilst staying in the exact same line of work. Recruiters really struggled with this concept as they kept pestering me with paraplanner opportunities.

I had an interview at an accounting firm, which had a financial planning arm. They needed an all-things-financial specialist. The interview went really well. At least, so I thought. They promised to get back to me within a week’s time. However, not a single peep. After three weeks, I sent an email to the recruiter who I was in touch with and said that I do not want anything to do with him or that accounting business and explained how disappointing their communication was. It’s a very poor sign if your employer starts breaking promises from the very beginning.

After that email, they immediately got back to me to get me into another meeting to chat with the wider team and managers etc. I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t desperate… and that put me into a much better bargaining position. Maybe I’m an idealist but I would like to work for a company which treats its employees well. My “no” decision was not up for debate.

Moving on, somehow my old boss found out I was looking for jobs. He later told me that one of the guys from a recruitment agency told him he had received my resume. So much for confidentiality… I will never trust recruiters again. It’s sad that such immoral people exist. However, that’s the world we live in. Welcome to London!

My old boss (from the company in Chelmsford) called me and said in his cheeky cheerful voice something along the lines of “a little bird told me you’re on the market again”. This was followed by a big hearty explosion of laughter. I agreed to meet up at his newly opened London office. We had a catch up and he made me an offer to join the dark side.

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I did a bit of soul searching in Spain (zouk festival near Barcelona) and on my return I decided that I’ll jump ship. So I handed in my notice and my three month clock started.

It’s quite a long time to wait three months to start a new venture. Eventually, the sand in the hourglass passed and now I’m the newest Fairey in town. This new chapter is called IFA (Independent Financial Adviser), which is exactly what I set out to do since my first job interview at this very company about 2.5 years ago.

I’ve been wearing my new adviser hat for a few weeks now and in all fairness I have a long way to go. However, I’m hugely optimistic. If Leo can get an Oscar, UK vote for Brexit, and Donald Trump can become president, I can surely become one of UKs top financial advisers.

Big boss man thinks that the best way for me to learn is to make me as uncomfortable as possible. At times, it’s certainly challenging, with a hint of occasional embarrassment and a dash of feelings of worthlessness. The deep end of the pool looked a lot scarier a few weeks ago. I’ve made some progress.

So.

If you guys need some financial advice, hit me up. I’m sure my financial planning magic will leave you in a state of eternal happiness, joy and serenity.

Oh and I don’t have to wear a tie at work. Life is good again!

Ivar

SteveO

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One of my friends died.

He was a good man, a happy man – always smiling, always joking. I used to call him bald Steve. I was never able to spell his last name… I loved his humour and his laughter. He was one of the good ones. Why did he die and not some other horrible person? There’s plenty of them going around.

We worked together at my old job.

One of the last things I said to SteveO was “I will miss seeing my reflection from the top of your head. If I was female I’d slap that tight bum of your’s as well.”

SteveO drove me home that day and on other occasions as well (for example when it was raining outside or I needed a lift to catch my train).

He was kind.

He was humble.

I wish more people were like him.

He was a friend.

I will miss you,
Ivar

Today is moving day

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Firstly I’m moving my ass back to England.
I miss home. I was on the bus and I got a bit nostalgic. I was listening to a romantic song and watching out the window. It reminded me of that time I was living in my campervan in Australia near Shepparton.
I loved watching the sunset but I remembered the mozzies… so many of them. I used to open the back door and scroll down all the windows and go for a drive so that the wind would blow all the mozzies out before I went to sleep. #Lifehack… Life wasn’t perfect but in many ways it kinda was.

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Today’s plan is to move house. I’m changing jobs and will move to London as well. I’ve been in the UK for 1.5 years and virtually all this time was spent in Chelmsford. It seems like I’ve been missing out on the whole UK experience. I think London will be good for me.
My new place is the most expensive I’ve ever lived in (£750 pcm for my room) but the location is very good. The closest tube station is Angel and the place is only 1.5 km from work – I can skip the whole rush hour commute and stroll to work in only 15-20 minutes.
My new flatmates are Daniel (car surveys) and Joshua (IT guy). I haven’t met Josh yet. Dan seemed nice. He is/was a runner, plays guitar and seemed like a good chap.
BTW when I was flat hunting I only looked at one place – I didn’t have much time because of my sudden trip to Estonia. I checked the place out and said I’ll take it because of the location. There was another place which was even better however the rent was £1000 pcm – a bit too pricey right now. I hope my new home is fine though.
I’m probably not going to finish packing/moving today but I’ll get most of it done. I’ll finish on Monday.
Monday is also the first day in my new job. Exciting stuff.