Replacing Hot Chocolate

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is impossible. But we tried. We had about 100 people responding to the ad overall but only six viewings of which five on the same day. Luckily Mr Handsome was at home and did most of the talking. I was tasked with just being pretty and flicking my luscious hair every now and then.

The first kid was very young (21), British, had a babyface and works less than a minute from here. He was also a runner but a fairly lazy one – a few 5K’s here and there a week. He was very nervous and seemed like a good kid. I think he was too excited about the potential of living in this amazing location and also so close to work. On the downside it didn’t seem like we had much in common.

The second chap was French, 27. He was vegetarian but a fairly awkward chap as well. I liked this guy more than Babyface because he was interesting, unusual and closer to my age. However, we weren’t able to get a conversation going with him. His answers were very repetitious such as “cool, cool, cool” and “great, great, great, yes, yes, yes”.  I think he loved the flat a bit too much.

The third guy was also French but this dude came across as a lazy bugger. He loved to sleep in a lot, loved cooking and watching lots of French league football. We got along well and he said he’d love to take the room. However, we had to say no to him (not to his face of course, a day later) as we figured that he wasn’t sophisticated enough to go through all the crappy agency checks to be allowed to move in.

The next guy said he was from New Zealand, which was a lie. Not a great strategy dude. He was actually Russian and lived for 5-10 years in NZ. He came across as a proper douchebag and I couldn’t wait until he left the flat. The reason why he was looking for a new place is becaue he’s not getting along with his other housemates and they can’t agree on anything. I like that he was truthful about that but I had discounted him even before that revelation. His entire persona screamed that “I don’t care about what you have to say”, “I’m always right”, “My way or the highway” etc. Easiest  NO decision ever!

The last guy for the day works for the same company as Babyface (1 min walk from here) and worked as an investment analyst. He was born in Iran but has been living in the UK since the age of 2. We got along really well, had a bit of a chat about his work and my work and the overlap… and it was fun. I figured this is our guy.

Next day we broke the news to Iran but weren’t impressed by his response. He was saying some crap about getting his girlfriend in as well for a month or so… and that she was really nice and quiet and easy to get along with etc. Anywho, I decided this guy is a fucking liar and has no integrity. Why didn’t he mention any of this the day before?

We wanted to see a few more people before Hot Chocolate  left to Italy for a few days. We were only able to get one person for that evening. This chap was from Ireland. I recalled living with a few Irish (among other nationals) back in Bundaberg and didn’t have any bad experiences. In fact it was quite the opposite. Nothing but good memories and I also remembered this gorgeous Irish girl at a zouk festival I went to, and she was amazing. Ireland worked for the same company as Babyface and Iran, similarly in some finance job. Another bonus is that he plays the guitar. I figured I could use him as my lucky charm whenever I play the lottery or go to Las Vegas. He’d come in handy!

irish-luck

A few days later the lucky Irishman moved in. I haven’t really seen him much – he comes home past my bed time. He got smashed yesterday as he was having a massive hangover this afternoon but oddly enough went to work today (it’s Sunday).

Amazon has moved out and the Golden Girl is moving in today. I’m looking forward to having a full house again.

I don’t think Ireland will replace Hot Chocolate. It’s been very quiet and boring since my psychologist left this flat and the country. I wish him all the best and that he figures out what he wants to do with his life. I can only hope that the new kids are maybe just a tenth as amazing and entertaining as he was. And maybe one day Amazon learns how to love and not to hate.

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Replacing Amazon

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It is official. Nobody loves me. Two of my housemates are moving out. Hot Chocolate is leaving because he is going travelling for six freaking months and Amazon is leaving because she hates me.

Anywho the kids advertised their respective rooms on SpareRoom and booked in some viewings. We had plenty of interest. I didn’t really want to be involved with the housemate search too much but as I am the only one stuck living here I had to be present to make sure I picked somebody I would get along with.

The bigger and most expensive room in the flat had a bit less interest and it was mostly from girls. I think it’s because Amazon’s room looks very girly and no man with an ounce of self-respect would want to live there. As Amazon decided to take off to her homeland and Mr Chocolate was busy getting his travel visas etc sorted, I was the only one who was tasked with meeting the potential tenants for Amazon’s room. Although Amazon and Hot Chocolate were present during the first two “interviews”.

We had a Chinese man who was working as an analyst at a bank but I didn’t get a good vibe from him. I remembered living with a Vietnamese guy back in Brisbane who fried disgusting stuff every day and never washed up. I’ve seen Karl Pilkington’s An Idiot Abroad and I know what disgusting things the Chinese eat. We didn’t seem to click and it was tricky to get a conversation going with the chap. It was a no from me.

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Moving on we had a kid who works for SnapChat. He was young and cheerful but very nervous. His leg kept twitching back and forth when I interviewed him. He seemed OK but I wasn’t convinced that this guy was quite right. NEXT!

A girl working for Deutsche Bank showed up late one evening. She came across really well until I asked her about where she’s from. She was Turkish. I’ve had some bad experiences with Turks you know…. Alarm bells were ringing loud and clear. So I asked her if she had a visa to stay in the UK and she had a few issues – her visa was due to be extended and it was a thing in progress she reassured me. She said her paperwork was all ready and that the next day she was going to Turkey to formally apply to extend her visa – she had to be outside of the UK to apply and keep the British bureaucrats happy. I thought that she would never pass the reference checks for the flat. However, I didn’t want to break her heart just yet. As we continued chatting I discovered that she also works super long days… almost all workdays are 10+ hours with a very short lunch which she usually eats at her desk. Wow, I thought. She was doing some corporate banking gig, which probably paid really well but that came at the cost of having no social life whatsoever. It was so bad I felt like I should give her a hug. A bit later I also discovered that she was a smoker, which was a non-negotiable no-no with my new housemates. I spent more than an hour chatting with her… In retrospect I should’ve kicked her out way sooner but I actually tried to find reasons why she would be the first Turkish person who would change my perception of that nationality. However, that didn’t happen. NEXT!

I had an Aussie girl who works for Ernst and Young. She was a posh accountant who came across very rich and fancy. I think I had the shortest interview with her. This girl was from Sydney and when I told her I spent two years in Australia, mostly in Brisbane, her response was that Brisbane is really boring and that nothing ever happens there. Oi!, That sure wasn’t a smart thing to say. I didn’t argue and acknowledged that Sydney is so big, I’m sure there’s always something fun to do there. She, of course, agreed. I asked her the visa question as well and she said – rather importantly – that her employer spent tens of thousands of pounds to get her ass to London and granted her a minimum two year visa for the UK. If she was to leave E&Y, she’d have to pay it all back and there was no chance in hell of that happening. I didn’t like her attitude or her persona. I had a big smile on my face after I kicked her out. Later I got a message from Amazon (as she was the one who arranged the viewing) that the Aussie girl loved me and would like to take the room. I could not believe it. It was a flat out NO from me. Next!

The next girl was from Belarus. She was absolutely stunning – tall, very fit, with long blonde golden hair in a ponytail, she was very polite and in every way perfect. I was in love. In fact I would’ve paid her rent for the privilege of breathing the same air with her. She worked for Bank of America and similarly to the Turkish girl, had very long working hours. She was a dancer as well and does a bit of running too. She ticked so many boxes I was all smiles. Unfortunately, she didn’t think the room was good value for money as she had tons of stuff and was worried how she’d fit it all in. Oh well… I cried a little when she left.

As the blood returned to my brain I realized I had another meeting that day. This time it was a German girl. She was very young – 21, and 22 in a few weeks time. She did some corporate banking stuff as well – and just like Belarus and Turkey – she worked very long hours. In fact, it was a Sunday and she said that she came from work to see the room and after our chat went back to work. Welcome to corporate banking!

Anywho, she came across really well – I am so biased here…. I had so many positive experiences with Germans in Australia that I think they’re all great people. She was quite funny and I noticed that she played with her hair when she was talking to me…you know rolling it between her fingers, pulling a few strands through her lips… – textbook signs of attraction. Or maybe… she was just manipulating me. I didn’t know what to think, so naturally I picked her.

I quite liked her really. She was young and beautiful and had that spark in her eyes – the one which withers away as work beats the life out of you. She reminded me of my Australian kids when I met them. She works for Goldman Sachs – that’s a fairly difficult thing to do… especially at 21. I would love to work there. I think she’s rich and/or has very well connected family. And, if we don’t get along, she would never be in the flat anyway as she works all the time.

She decided to take the room and now is in the process of being terrorized by the agency and their referencing process. Fingers crossed she makes it to the other end.

I will tell you about the second housemate in the next post.

Ivar

Richmond Park Marathon

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“Must. Keep. Pace. [breathe]” was my mantra for about 20 minutes until I stopped running. I made the same mistake again. Just like the Chelmsford marathon, the Richmond Park race was a multi-terrain course and everything started hurting real quick. You see, I trained on the pavement but not on a combination of grass, gravel and road. You might think it doesn’t matter much but over the course of 26.2 miles / 42.2 kilometers the pain and agony and discomfort adds up. Bit by bit.

Following the Chelmsford marathon (finished in about 3:50) I remember I told myself that it was not worth going through all of that pain. I should’ve quit and gone back home to lick my wounds. I made a promise to myself that I’d never run a multi-terrain course without proper training again. However, two years later I forgot about it and that’s how I found myself in the this particular pickle of a situation.

Things at Richmond Park started out quite well actually. I decided to run with the 3H pacer and follow him for as long as possible. I was blissfully unaware about the course for about half an hour. Then the terrain started to gradually get crappier and crappier. I felt quite foolish and started questioning myself. Maybe the case with the Chelmsford marathon wasn’t about the terrain… maybe I didn’t train enough last time around etc. However, the pain in my ankles started to creep up and I began struggling with keeping up with the 3 hour chaps.

Not too long after that I lost sight of the 3 hour people. The race was lost. I was quite demoralized but kept going. Things started to look good again around the half marathon mark as I did that split in 1:31, which was almost 4 minutes faster than in my London marathon six months ago. I got a bit more confident and figured that I might actually finish faster this time around. All was not lost after all.

A few miles later, the pain got worse and I started my “Must. Keep. Pace [breathe]” mantra until that stopped working. This is the first race in which I stopped running and had to walk. I walked at least 10-15 minutes until I was able to start running again.

I finished in 3:35:48. 146th out of 680 runners:

richmondparkfinish

This is 14 minutes slower than my finish in the London marathon, which was a proper road race. Although I’m a bit disappointed with my finishing time today (I was hoping for a personal best), I’m pleased with the result given the circumstances. Oh! and I didn’t suffer anywhere as much as in the Chelmsford marathon this time around. I’m a bit fitter I guess.

I’m glad I took part in the marathon. Sure, it wasn’t what I expected but I finished and can still walk… you know… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In addition I have another medal to add to my collection. Proof:

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My next race will be the Paris marathon on 9th April. I tried to get in on the Tokyo marathon (February 2017) but didn’t get in on the ballot. It’s way too expensive to go via the charity or travel agency route. I hope I have better luck next year.

It’s been a busy and rewarding weekend.

Ivar

Flashing in crowded places

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Every Sunday for the last six or so weeks I’ve been going to this place in Camden Town. It’s dodgy as hell. You need to go under a rail station bridge, walk through a dark garage which smells like motor oil and exhaust fumes, then take a turn into a narrow tunnel, walk into the light and see how far the rabbit hole goes. We’re not quite there yet, but almost. Take a left and with a sigh of relief you can see the entrance to the studio. It’s always locked but all you need to do is press the buzzer and it opens up. Then up the stairs and bingo, we’re in the money.

I was always late because I run on Sundays and tend to underestimate my finishing times. Once, I was an hour and 20 minutes late – I hope nobody noticed.

The room is warm, hot yoga warm. I’ve never done hot yoga but you know what I mean. Anywho, all the kids are up there practicing a little routine we are doing for the International Zouk Day.

I have very fond memories of the first time I flashed in Australia three years ago. I was very keen on doing it again when Miss Valentine asked what our thoughts were on doing it in London. I said I’ll do it but the other three parties were more reserved and less enthusiastic about it.

Fast forward to September 17. This is it – the Big Day. Following a quick 20 minute run and a chat with a potential new housemate I headed out to a park near Kings Cross to meet up with the trio – Miss Valentine, Covanova and Lady Smiles. We rehearsed the performance a few times, declined an offer to buy weed from a friendly Londoner and headed towards the station.

England, being retarded, required all of us to sign a form, get a safety briefing and cough up £4 each for insurance before we were allowed to flash at Kings Cross station. It was quite a buzzkill. I’m glad Mr and Mrs BBQ handled the paperwork and took one for the team. Well done guys!

It was a very similar experience to my previous flashmob. People were all excited and nervous and anxious to make it all happen.

The music started playing. Only the main couple (teachers) flashed at first. All others gradually joined in as the crowd of travelers watched the spectacle come to life. One by one we claimed our spot on the floor – me and Miss Valentine had to fight some other kids for a place in the front row. It was brutal but worth it.

The first song was an introduction and entirely freestyle, followed by the main song and our performance. We got a massive applause and for a moment there was peace on earth – at least that’s what I’d like to think. We did about twenty minutes of social dancing (freestyle) afterwards and flashed again. For good luck!

Then we moved outside of the station and did all of the above again and then again at St Paul’s Cathedral. We were quite tired at the end of it but very happy.

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I had a lot of fun, made friends and am very pleased with our mob. I’d like to thank our teachers for doing an amazing job at showing us how flashing is done and adding a bit more life into our moments.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a video for you guys just yet. I will share it once I have it.

Besos,

Ivar

Drinking margaritas and dancing senoritas

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Running at 15 km/h on the treadmill is probably the same as 12 km/h in the real world. That’s what it felt like. The original idea was to chill at the hotel’s spa because of the rain. Unfortunately the spa was closed at the time. So I decided to cease the day and use the gym instead – conveniently it was right next to the spa entrance. Twenty minutes and five kilometers later, I left the treadmill drenched with what appeared to be the sweat of a thousand scrotums. Mhm, that bad! I went upstairs and knocked on Chinatown’s door to join the tribe.

“Can I use your shower?” I asked as the kids were enjoying their hotel room lunch. They probably enjoyed it a lot less after I joined – I think Mr Fox passed out as he couldn’t handle the smell… or the visual.

All showered up, I realized this was not my best look as my nasty sunburn was on display and I continued sweating. After a bit of chit-chat I had to go back to my AirBnB place to change clothes and have a second shower (my sweat glands didn’t get the memo that I was done running). Hey, it’s warm in Spain!

Neither one of my AirBnB hosts – Christina and Victoria – spoke much English. Consequently we didn’t talk that much as my Spanish is buenos nachos assessino caracas!

Two days earlier, I arrived in Barcelona and spent some time sightseeing. I checked out the Sagrada Familia (it’s the pointy tower building which shows up when you Google images about Barcelona), I checked out a few parks and a castle etc. There was a lot to see.

My first impression of Barcelona was: Wow!

It was so beautiful. I was falling in love with every other girl I saw. They are gorgeous!!! This place was heaven! I’m never coming back to London I thought. I will cherish that day forever and ever.

On Thursday, they had a beach party before the zouk festival. A few of my dancing friends showed up that day in Mataro as well (it’s an hour train ride away from Barclona). The plan was to go to the beach party together and get a cab.

I was told they’d pick me up in two minutes. My feet took me downstairs and across the street so the cab could pick me up. The problem was that the cab never arrived or stopped. I waited a full 10-15 minutes but no dice. So I decided to walk it instead (in all honesty it was only a 10-15 minute walk anyway).

Here’s what happened. Chinatown, The Girl from a Swiss Cottage, Mr and Mrs Fox and the Little Dinosaur hired a cab. They only had room for six people and told another girl at their hotel that she can’t share the ride as one spot was reserved for me. The cab got in front of my place but there was no place to stop, so the cab driver just drove past. They all tried calling/messaging me but I had no reception nor internet on my phone (I actually left my phone at ‘home’ anyway as I thought it’s rather useless here).

The taxi driver was a bit cranky I was told and he didn’t seem too eager to look around to find a spot to pull over. It doesn’t seem that he knew where the beach bar was and ended up stopping way past the actual place – all the kids had to walk quite a bit back.

The way I see it, nobody won that day. I got screwed over as I was left waiting for a cab which never arrived, the sixth girl got screwed over as she couldn’t join the taxi at the hotel, the cab driver was annoyed, the ride cost a lot more than it should’ve and all the kids had to walk back about a kilometer from where the cab stopped. It was a disaster.

One thing is sure I will never let Italians organize a cab again. Ever!

We had a bumpy start to the evening but it got better. A lot better. Picture this: a beautiful beach, with palm trees, warm weather, a light cooling summer breeze, surrounded with gorgeous chicas, good music and some amazing dancing at a beach bar. This is the place to be. It felt like a real holiday.

Next day, I had my first encounter with the local customer service at breakfast. It wasn’t great and my fellow breakfesteers thought the waitress came across as miserable. I couldn’t tell as I don’t speak Spanish and didn’t understand the conversation, The Girl from a Swiss Cottage did most of the talking. So I’ll have to take their word for it. Although I thought the service was OK.

I was impressed that the girl was able to memorize our orders. However, she charged us less than she should’ve and the bill was incorrect. This happened later that day too as the staff forgot to add my cherry beer to our bill. I guess they think throwing in a small freebie will keep customers happy or… they aren’t too fussed about doing things properly.

I did a few zouk classes that day as well and learned a move or two – nothing fancy. After grabbing some dinner we went all back for the social and did a bit of freestyling until 5 AM.

Green man

As you can see above, the green man is also dancing in Mataro!

The next day was a bit similar but this time me, Mr and Mrs Fox decided we’re too cool for school. We all skipped the first class, I did the second one and then a bit of the third until I quit. I walked out of the class because it felt like a lot of contemporary bullshit and I got really bored. Our alternative pastime was to head to the beach and drink some Sangria (red wine mixed with chopped fruit, something sweet and a small amount of brandy). I became best friends with Mr Sangria that day.

The social was way better on the second night. I thought I’d be too tired because of the previous day’s 5 AM finish… but no I actually felt much better this time around. I danced with the same amazing Swiss girl I wrote about in the post about Prague. Many times, you will meet the same people from previous zouk events (the world isn’t that big at all). I was also impressed by a German girl and most of the Spanish chicas.

I had another unicorn moment when I found out I was dancing with an Estonian girl. Man, she was out of this world. She was wild, she was young, she was chaotic, she was fun. Then I recommended Chinatown to have a dance with her to be part of the magic I encountered. He, however, said she was rubbish and completely out of tune and out of control. In her defense, she was a beginner but she moved like a pro. I guess what I’m trying to say is, she made a very positive impression. Disclaimer, this is a completely unbiased overview and has nothing to do with her sharing the same nationality with me.

I can’t leave out the London crowd and have to say they were entertaining to dance as well. The best, without question, was The Girl from a Swiss Cottage. I didn’t get to dance with Mrs Fox though but I saw all the kids show one fancy move after another one.

5 AM finish again. Next day, however, the sleep debt caught up with me and I spent the entire day sleeping and didn’t do any dancing whatsoever.

The day before leaving Spain, I was in Barcelona sightseeing. I checked out Park Güell and Castle Montjuic and other stuff. It was just as beautiful as my first day in Spain.

Park Guell

I took the train back to Mataro. A lot of teens joined me at the next station. They were loud and on their way to a big party (shower party or something). They couldn’t wait until the party started, so they were drinking their booze and smoking right there on the train. I’ve never seen something like this. It wasn’t just one kid smoking but more like 10-15. They also played loud music and were drumming loudly on the windows or train walls. It was quite a sight.

The next few stations we got extra people in to make sure the train was tightly packed with teens. Some guys were pushing other passengers off the train when they tried to board at later stations. It was wild, anarchy at its best.

Next morning I had to get to the airport and was greeted by a massive line of teenagers all the way out of the train station. Policemen were everywhere and during my wait I saw two or three kids being taken away by them. I was a bit worried that I might miss my flight.

It took me twenty minutes to get into the station and buy a ticket. Following this I was quite surprised that the train itself wasn’t packed at maximum capacity. There was plenty of room and I even managed to grab myself a seat. Not sure where the teens disappeared… they must’ve travelled in a different direction from me.

I’m very pleased with my first visit to Spain. It widely exceeded my expectations. I’ve always thought that travelling in Europe is a bit meh, but now I’m starting to realize that maybe it’s not that bad after all…

Yours truly,

Chicalover666

Brexit and a stinky fridge

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There’s three of us living here and our current fridge is tiny – about the size of a washing machine. We’ve been in need of some cold real estate expansion for a few months. However, nobody actually wanted to arrange it. We didn’t want to spend a fortune on it as our lease ends in April next year, so we kept putting it off.

It was a Sunday and Amazon was whining about our fridge situation. I amassed all of my negotiation skills and managed to empower her to take some initiative. She went on Gumtree and a call or two later had it all organized.

A day later we had our fridge delivered by some dodgy immigrants. There was a smell around the men when they delivered it. I thought the men smelled, but it was actually the fridge.

We were told not to turn it on for about two hours because of whatever lame dodgy fridge salesman excuse. So it just stood in the middle of the living room overnight.

Come morning time, and I switched the bad boy on. Immediate regret followed. The fridge was noisy as hell. I could not even hear my own thoughts when next to it. But it gets worse.

The inside of the fridge was quite smelly only to be surpassed by the stench coming from the back of it. That smell concentrated near my room and I was breathing all of that motor grease oily smell in whilst trying to get some sleep. I was worried I’d wake up dead.

First thing in the morning I unplugged the bloody thing and told my housemates we need to get rid of it. It was too noisy and made the entire flat smell. It had to go.

For reasons, which I don’t quite understand, Amazon did not share my sentiment and didn’t think the noise was excessive nor did the fridge smell in her infinite wisdom. I think she got attached to it because she picked it out and now has trouble coming to terms with making a poor consumer decision.

Anywho, I got my housemates’ blessing and listed the fridge on Gumtree for £50 (we bought it for £102). My ad didn’t attract any interest. Mr Chemistry said it’s not surprising and suggested I list it for free. I asked Amazon if she was OK with that and her words were “I don’t care”.

All my female readers will now think that “I bet he didn’t even know what that meant. It means precisely that this is going to be a massive issue if he “sells” it for free” and that’s exactly what happened. I got rid of the fridge today and my life was beautiful again. At least for a short while.

Before I went to bed I had a look at my trading portfolio which showed a small loss of around £50 because everybody thought the UK was going to remain in the UK. At least that’s what the money voted on. This is because all the bookies got a massive splurge of people coming in with bets for the UK to vote remain.

I woke up with an open loss of about £1,000. Not exactly the best start to the day! About 90% of the votes had been counted and Brexit was winning. I was quite surprised. I went for a run and couldn’t but help myself thinking that every other Brit is xenophobic and/or racist. This was a tough pill to swallow. I felt and still do feel quite unwelcome here.

The GET BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY mentality is strong. I thought this was something people were jokingly saying but the Brits actually meant it. How terrible is that? I found myself asking do I want to live in a country where more than half the nation doesn’t want me here. Well… it’s not much of a question really. The answer is: No!

Fuck no!

I would have never moved to England if it wasn’t for the EU. I was in New Zealand before moving here and I think I would’ve stayed there if I had a crystal ball (I’d also be fabulously rich with my crystal ball but that’s another story…). I think I’ve played my cards wrong. Two and a half years I’ve been here and worked here and paid my taxes, never been on benefits, never commit a crime etc. Now I’m suddenly the enemy.

In all honesty it’s the 50+ year olds who voted out, the younger ones mostly voted remain. So the people who were faced with the shortest time of living with the consequences got their way and the younger generations with up to 50+ years ahead of them will have to clean up the mess. Or maybe older folks are more xenophobic and long for a time when racism and hate were cool?

People at work didn’t quite want to discuss this topic with me. It’s painfully obvious why – about half of them voted out which clearly means they think I’m a threat of some kind or a moocher or another bloody immigrant. You can’t even trust the ones who said they were “pro remain” as every second person voted out. They’re lying and don’t even have the balls to expose their xenophobia. Cowards!

I am an immigrant and I think I’m a better person because of that. In my book Estonia (that’s where I’m from) is also a very xenophobic hateful nation. I’ve lived in five countries so far, I’ve travelled to many more. I’ve seen the world and experienced different cultures – not just as a tourist but lived amongst the natives. I’ve grown as a man and become more open-minded and understanding in the process.

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Change the religions in the above picture to people with different nationalities. The message is the same.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” – Mark Twain.

It’s a sad day.

And the best thing which happened was the moment the fridge was taken away. Sadly, this joy was also taken away from me when Amazon decided to make a scene about it. I don’t get it. I got all my housemates’ blessing to get rid of it, it was a horrible product – FFS there was brown smelly liquid stuff leaking from the back of it. Our financial loss was only £34 per person, which is peanuts. I just don’t understand her. Why are her precious feelings or emotional attachments so important? It was just a crappy fridge.

I would do the same again, any day. No regrets.

If you wanted, you could draw further parallels here. The fridge was the EU and I got rid of it because it’s a shitty product. However, the difference is that I know there are better products available which I can replace the fridge with. That’s not the case with leaving the EU, as there’s considerable uncertainty about the future. In fact, there is no leadership and nobody knows where this train of hate is heading to.

Sad Ivar

Tying the knot

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I remember like it was yesterday. Well, it was actually this morning but who’s counting?

Hot Chocolate came down the stairs with his suit on and in his new pair of shoes. Nervous like a little schoolgirl, he asked me if he should wear a tie to his first day at his new job.

“Obviously yes!” I replied. Then he gave me his tie and said “you do it!” By that he meant that I should tie the tie as he didn’t know how to. Luckily I was prepared.

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Just half an hour earlier I fixed my own tie. It was months ago when I last tied my own tie. I always keep the knot in because I don’t know how to do it properly. As the weeks progressed and it became more and more obvious that the skinny part of the tie was getting longer and longer compared to the fat part I decided that I should get this first world issue sorted.

It took me two YouTube videos, about eight attempts and 20 minutes until I was victorious. My triumph was staggering. I felt empowered. I could take on the world.

I took Romario’s tie and put a knot on it in twenty seconds flat… only to discover the horror on his face when he realized that his shirt had no proper collar and a tie doesn’t really work with it. I was deeply distraught but the fashion police inside me was strong. I said he looked fine. I tucked his shirt in, slapped that booty and off he went with a big smile to cease the day.

The whole scene was so funny, I felt like sharing.

Ivor the Salad

Posted in Fun

Another day, another diploma

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This time I actually woke up at 5:50 according to my alarm clock (phone) which is ten minutes ahead of the correct time. Normally I’d spend the next half hour or so snoozing even then it’s a training day. It was Friday and I went downstairs to put my running shoes on to do my usual 10-miler.

Somehow I managed to run the fastest 10-miler for this year, even though I was trying to be slow. I was dreading 8 AM because that’s when my AF5 exam results were released – FYI you need to log on to a website to get your results. Quick shower followed by a big breakfast which I purposefully took my time preparing. 8 AM arrived as I sat down to eat but then I remembered it was also my mother’s birthday.

I figured I’d better call her before finding out my results. Otherwise, if it’s a fail, I might sound depressed or something. I had a 10 minute chat with her until I ran out of Skype credit. It seems that Skype will cut off your call at the 10 minute mark if you run out of money.

Then I checked my result and it was a PASS. I did the usual victory dance every gambler does at a Las Vegas casino. Now I have completed my Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and also reached Fellowship of the Personal Finance Society, which is the highest qualification you can get here in the UK for financial planning.

About two years ago when I first came to the UK I worked in an admin job, I was miserable and hated it. The only way forward was to get some exams under my belt. I took my first exam in June 2014 and was surprised when I passed it. I made a decision to take exams as often and as fast as possible. It took me 19 exams and a bit less than two years to get to Fellowship. I’ve actually kept up a bit of a study log:

R01 116H
R02 104H
R03   92H (passed on second attempt)
R04 102H
R05   96H
R06 106H (fail) + 40H (passed second attempt)
J10    14H
J05, AF1, AF3, AF4, 206H (took all exams over 3 consecutive days)
FA2, FA7, J12 40H
FA1, FA6 10H
FA4, FA5 56H
AF5 26H (fail) + 20H (passed second attempt)
Roughly 1,028 hours.

I guess it’s true what they say about 1,000 hours of study to become an expert in something.

Anywho, the joy lasted for ten seconds tops. It passed and was replaced with a feeling of emptiness. I didn’t feel accomplished at all. It’s very similar to my uni graduations – neither felt like a big thing. Another day, another diploma… and I found myself asking the question “Now what?”

another day

I didn’t even feel like sharing the news with my colleagues. I sent an email to my manager (we need to do this because the company paid for my exam) and she later shared the news with the office. A few “well done’s“ and “congrats” followed and it wasn’t news anymore.

What next? Surprise, surprise, I’m going to do more exams but this time with CISI – Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments. I think the studying will never end!

Ivar

One model, a mankini and the Prague Zouk Marathon

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A woman who looked like a supermodel was casually strolling down the pedestrian road and flicking her hair whilst talking on a mobile phone. All eyes were on her and people stared… some even took pictures. I didn’t think of that because all the blood from my brain was downstairs. Did I mention she was completely naked? Then she disappeared behind the corner just as suddenly as she first appeared. My friends, with that visual I welcome you to Prague!

Only a few days after running the London marathon I set myself up for another marathon. This one however was of a different nature – 5 days of lots and lots of dancing in Prague.

Day 1 – Arrival
The ATM said minimum withdrawal was 3,000. I thought to myself three thousand what? This clearly demonstrates the level of my unpreparedness for my stay in Prague. I had no clue what the exchange rate was for the Czech currency (CZK) to my beloved paper with the queen on it. Now I know it’s about 37 CZK for £1. I felt quite rich after walking away from the ATM.

Czech currency

Getting to my AirBnB place proved to be a challenge as well. I managed to get on two wrong buses until I finally found my way. I also put too much faith into GoogleMaps. Even though I found the place my app was telling me to go to I was on the wrong street. Luckily my host knew this could happen and he found me around 1 AM that night.

Even though it was a bit late I still decided to go to the first Prague Zouk Marathon (PZM) event. It’s a party guys, you can show up whenever you like. I arrived around 2 AM and had a few dances but wasn’t quite “feeling it” as I was a bit tired from the travel. I didn’t stay long and then went back “home” to get some sleep.

Second day
My room us HUGE. Think Donalt Trump huuuuge. It’s at least 5 times the size of my room in London. It’s wonderful. I discovered we also have a bubble bath in the property. However, it doesn’t work… or I simply don’t know how to operate one.

A vegan restaurant was super close to my accommodation and I went there for some late lunch. This was a very positive surprise. The food was delicious and I can recommend the place. I think it’s called “Vegan’s restaurant” and it’s on Nerudova street.

The main tourist thing in Prague is its castle. After filling mah belly with blueberry pie I set path towards it. Only a five minute walk from the restaurant until I reached the big gates. Someone was playing the violin nearby. So I sat down and listened to a few songs and enjoyed the view (the castle is on a hill and you can see the entire city and the river etc).

The weather was super sunny… although last night it was quite cold. I found myself expressing classic spring behavior – always trying to walk in the sun as it’s the only place which wasn’t cold. I’m sure many of you can relate.

I wandered about quite aimlessly and made my way to the river to greet some swans. I couldn’t but notice how clean everything was. It’s a very nice city.

I reached a bridge and that’s then I saw the hot naked girl walking around. There was a cameraman or two walking around her – maybe it was a photoshoot or something. Man, Prague is amazing!

As the day turned to night I started to head  back to the PZM venue. I walked past a big garden/vineyard and saw a rabbit hopping about. Earlier I saw an otter in the river. It’s quite a lively place here compared to London. The only wildlife in London you could see are mostly squirrels and foxes. I’ve also seen mice/rats in both underground stations and Starbucks coffee shops – it was nowhere as cool as seeing an otter. Prague 1 : London 0.

The PZM provided lunch, dinner and snacks in between. I got there on time for a buffet dinner. I think it worked really well – it was easy to fill my plate with vegan stuff although I had my doubts initially. I think the organizers deserve some praise in this area. Well done!

I didn’t do any dancing that night. I was too full and I think many others felt the same. There weren’t enough ladies to dance with so I decided to go home and take a nap and maybe come back in an hour or two if I felt like it. However, I woke up in the morning.

Day three

I was a bit bored in the morning and ended up booking myself a spot in the Paris marathon next year. This is one of the largest races in the world. It’s on 9 April 2017 and the registration is still open. Come join me!

I did the usual touristy stroll in the city and discovered these small islands in the river. They’re really nice and are basically just parks with flowers and benches and grass to sit on and have a picnic. I was chilling on the grass and looking at the water etc. Then a group of lads with one guy in a mankini got to the park to chat and chill and make fun of him. It was quite entertaining. It was probably some sort of a stag do ritual.

Prague islands

Back to the party for dinner. This time I decided to hang around after dinner (although it was a bit boring) until it got busier. I did a lot more dancing that night. My first victim was this Swiss girl in red. She was amazing!

I recognized a lot of people from the Zouk Libre Festival which was in Warsaw earlier this year. Norway (I think it’s Caroline?) was here again and she was very entertaining to watch. I didn’t dance with her – it’s dangerous for both of us as I never know what she’s up to. Anywho, she put on quite a show – just like in Warsaw. Very cool!

I think my Casanova skills reached a new low when I asked for a girl’s name and she said it was Laika – like the Russian dog who was sent to space and for all I know is still orbiting us. I couldn’t stop laughing for a few moments… she did not appreciate my sense of humor. We never danced again. Worth it!

I danced with many others (a lot of them were Polish) and left around 5 in the morning.

Days 4 and 5 – Afterparties

All that dancing and prancing was not good for recovery from the marathon I ran a few days earlier. I now have a blister between two toes and one of my toenails is about to fall off. Walking was a bit painful and it still is. The Prague Zouk Marathon was over but two afterparties were still on my agenda.

The first afterparty was at the TV Tower. The entire floor (96m up in the air) was reserved for the event. It had a wonderful view of the city. I didn’t realize that this was a “fancy” event – the girls had beautiful dresses on and stuff. I guess my crappy unironed white T-shirt, running shoes and dirty jeans didn’t quite fit in. I didn’t dance as much as I would’ve liked – things were hurting and I was a bit worried because of that.

TV_tower

Next day, my feet were still hurting and I decided that enough is enough. I needed to MacGyver a Band-Aid or something for the blister between my toes. I fixed it with a bit of tape and bandage. I felt like a doctor who got his degree online when I was operating the scissors etc. Now I can walk again.

The second afterparty was at a hotel and it wasn’t very busy when I got there. Things got better but I left around midnight to catch the last tube back home – I wanted to catch some sleep before my flight back to London as well.

Aftermath

Now I’m happily back in London and enjoying the rest of my day off. I think I didn’t get the most out of the Zouk Marathon – I only went to the evening parties and spent a lot of time sightseeing and stuff. The close proximity to the London marathon also didn’t help. I feel like I missed out on a lot and could’ve had a better experience.

However, Prague itself was amazing. The buildings are very symmetrical, detailed and refined – like a good wine. I’m obviously an expert in the subject matter of buildings and design because I once dated a girl who was into architecture or was it psychology? I’m not even sure.

Anywho, Prague is a city in which the crazy/unusual will find you if you stay too long in one place – whether it’s a hot naked woman, a man in a mankini or a film crew stopping you from going home because my street was transformed into a movie scene from the dark middle ages. Prague has Australia’s sunshine without the heat and Stockholm’s buildings without its price tag and reminded me of Amsterdam but without the bikes. Lots of trees and flowers were blossoming – it really was quite romantic. It’s well worth a visit!

Ivar

Touch here for POWER! – The Virgin Money London Marathon

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Benn said I better wear warm clothing today as the morning was very cold and it was raining. I was still in bed and thought today is gonna suck. He wasn’t joking – it was 5 degrees Celsius outside and quite windy.

I got to Greenwich park and continued to debate with myself whether I should keep my long sleeved running jacket on or not. The sun came out and the jacket came off. It felt like making a life and death decision back then.

10 AM and the marathon started. Previously I’ve always obsessed about pacing and running in specific heart rate zones. However, this time was different. I made the conscious choice to look around and take in the scenery, the people and the atmosphere. There was so much cheering around, many smiles and great effort by so many runners – man it was competitive. I though the runners would spread out after 5-10 km or so but no, there were always many runners around me.

A bit more than 39,000 people registered (however it’s not yet certain how many actually ran and finished).

My new pet peeve is high-fiveing kids’ little hands as I pass ‘em. I can’t do that every day you know.
All in all I think the crowd was amazing and they helped me heaps.

Some people made signs to encourage the runners. My favorite one read “Touch here for POWER!”  It made me smile.

It was roughly half way through the race when I reached my favorite stretch of the race –  the Tower Bridge and crossing the river. It was beautiful. And I didn’t even notice that approximately 20 km were already behind me. It all just happened effortlessly.

At the risk of sounding like a pussy I must admit I had a tear coming out of my eye at one point. But only one! I was thinking about everything that had happened in the last year and how I got to this point.  And here I was… running one of the world’s largest footraces. Nothing was hurting and I was enjoying myself. I was on fire!

My goal was ideally to finish around 3H 45 minutes but I greatly underestimated myself. That sign must have given me lots of power.

Half split was in around 1H 35 MIN and 20 miles in 2H 25 MIN. Not too shabby I thought. Then my pace dropped dramatically. I hit the wall between 20-23 mile – I should’ve timed the consumption of my energy gels better. I was so low on energy after 20 miles I took everything I could get my hands on – Lucozade energy drinks, Lucozade gels – even though I didn’t train with the stuff. My stomach is now a chemical soup of various isotonic gels and energydrinks. But that stuff worked wonders. I was able to pick up some speed again. Soon I passed the Buckingham palace and finished like a pro.

My time was 3H 21MIN 38 SEC, overall I was the 4939th, I was the 4384th man who crossed the finish line and I was the 2126th person in my 18-39 age category. I am very pleased with my performance as I didn’t train at all in March (I was sick) and April wasn’t that great either because of my exam. Anywho, below is the data from the marathon:

Category                     18-39

Runner no                   7932

Place (Men)                 4384

Place (Age Category)  2126

Place (overall)             4939

Finish time                  03:21:38

Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/km km/h Place
5K 10:22:34 00:22:02 22:02 04:25 13.62
10K 10:44:40 00:44:09 22:07 04:26 13.57
15K 11:07:27 01:06:56 22:47 04:34 13.17
20K 11:30:20 01:29:48 22:52 04:35 13.12
HALF 11:35:14 01:34:42 04:54 04:28 13.44
25K 11:53:03 01:52:31 17:49 04:34 13.15
30K 12:16:13 02:15:42 23:11 04:39 12.94
35K 12:42:03 02:41:31 25:49 05:10 11.61
40K 13:10:11 03:09:40 28:09 05:38 10.66
FINISH 13:22:10 03:21:38 11:58 05:28 11.00 4384

Even though this morning was really cold I’d still give the marathon a 10/10. Or maybe I’m just high on endorphins.

Virgin Money London Marathon certificate 20160424_220127 20160424_220037

I had a nap at home and then decided to celebrate at ZoukOff – the best zouk event London has to offer. I was a bit sore but it was a great finish to a magnificent day!

More power,

Ivar