100

Hear ye, hear ye!

This marks my very own, super duper hundredth post on London Geek. Drum roll please.

I’d like to thank my mother, my hair stylist and all of my fans who stuck by my side throughout this time of trials and tribulations, and I dedicate this accomplish..

Seriously now.

It’s been great. I know it’s no big thing for you people, most of you being so much more versed in this blogging deal than me, but I never thought I could do it, and I must say I do feel quite proud of myself.

Since I first noticed that Post 100 was slowly approaching, I’ve been beating my brains out to come up with a significant, 100 milestone worthy writing idea, and of course I eventually failed.

Keen to somehow mark the event nonetheless, I’ve combed through my blogging archives and managed to extract a couple of absolutely vital nuggets of information about this 100-posts-or-bust journey you’ve hopefully enjoyed alongside me at least a fraction of how much I have.

So here it goes.

Including this post, I’ve written a total of 60,471 words.

I know I know, that’s about 600 words per post which isn’t even in the least impressive, but it adds to, Whoa!!!, roughly the size of a short novel. Who knew I had it in me!

Your favourite posts* around here are kind of surprising.

Believe it or not, you’re more into my sad, lovey-dovey posts rather than the happy-happy-joy-joy-yet-super-informative ones. It’s true that I’ve been predisposed to writing a lot more about my feelings lately rather than joke around as I used to in the beginnings of this blogging journey. It could be that we’re all going through a bit of the spring blues, or I might have just figured out that mushy feelings make you tick and I’m taking full advantage of your weakness. I’ll never tell.

*based on a super duper complex algorithm taking into account a mix of likes, comments and view counts.

I’m stubbornly sticking to the title of this blog, and most often write about geeky-boring stuff, like my past and my books.

That’s pretty much all I could come up with. Super interesting, life changing stuff, I know!

In true character, I’ve got no particular, majestic plans for the future of this place, but I really hope I’ll manage to stick around for a while. I’m off to sip some virtual champagne now (aka do a bit of Sunday morning 9gag-ing, tall glass of orange juice in dangerous proximity of my keyboard).

Thanks for reading.

I mean really. Thanks!

Weekend Away

V. and I book a weekend away for our anniversary every year. Nothing too crazy, usually just a nice hotel not far from London, where we can spend some time away from our laptops, seeing the sights and enjoying fancy food we normally don’t get to try, boiled eggs and toast being the only culinary delights I pretend to be an expert at.

And though we try to leave the country for more exotic destinations for our longer summer and winter holidays, it’s always these short, always rainy anniversary weekend trips we seem to look forward to the most.

A couple of years back we went to Bournemouth, and stayed at a fancy hotel by the beach where we were pretty much the only guests, it being February and absolutely freezing. All over the resort, Chinese New Year decorations were still hanging from treetops and lamp posts, swaying above the deserted streets. We walked the beaches, took silly photos of each other on the pier, gawked in disbelief at the packs of surfers hitting the winter waves, and stuffed ourselves on three course seafood extravaganzas. Then last year, V. went behind my back and booked the honeymoon suite at Brighton’s Pelirocco, a tiny hotel famous for its (sexy) themed rooms. Ours had a round bed, mirrors on the ceiling, a jacuzzi, a !!! Stripping ! Pole ! In ! The ! Middle ! Of ! The ! Bedroom !!!, and really nice staff who’d surely witnessed lots of super duper interesting things throughout the years. Fun and games.

This year, clearly older and less adventurous than in our mirrors on the ceiling days, we settled for a more moderately exciting anniversary location, and picked the Donnington Hotel & Spa in Newbury. The plan was to walk around the countryside, maybe visit some of the National Trust houses in the area, and eat like savages.

On our way there on Friday, we stopped by Basildon Park & House, a National Trust property we’d read about online. It was sunny for once, though still freezing cold by my Romanian standards, so we walked around the parkland, me screeching with excitement every time we came across a patch of snowdrops or a suspiciously friendly pheasant. The Basildon Mansion is a beautifully restored 18th century home open to the public, so we strolled through the rooms for a while, admiring the intricate arhitecture and the furniture and art collection. The Downton Abbey 2013 Christmas Special was filmed here, and there’s a behind the scene exhibition including filming trivia, set photos, and some of the actresses’ dresses. I know very little about the series, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the tour, taking hundreds of badly lighted photos in the process. The main Downton Abbey filming location, Highclere Castle, is not far from here and it looks stunning in online photos, but it only opens for visitors in April, so we didn’t go.

On our way out of Basildon, I stopped by their gardener’s shed, where they had a 1£ second hand paperback sale. As expected, I couldn’t help myself and got a copy of A. S. Byatt’s Possession, so V. spent the rest of our drive to the hotel mumbling about how my forever increasing and highly unstable by now book mountain will surely be the end of us. Death by paperback avalanche!

The Donnington is a lovely hotel surrounded by green fields on the outskirts of Newbury. It’s got a golf course and an apparently constantly overbooked spa-gym-pool health center. We’d taken advantage of a Groupon offer and booked an executive room with dinner on the first night and a bottle of wine on departure. The room was pretty much the size of our London flat, which is always a nice surprise, and was facing an endless grassy field. I was cold, of course, and as much as we both tried we couldn’t shut one of the windows, so V. went to reception to mention it. Minutes later, a not particularly muscular looking gentleman came and shut the window for us in half a second, much to V.’s surprise and my very vocal amusement.

We strolled around the hotel grounds for a while before dinner. It was slowly getting dark, a bunch of wild rabbits were running around the golf course and everything was so peaceful it felt like it wasn’t really happening to us. After dinner, an exquisite three-courses-and-the-best-wine-I’ve-ever-had affair, we hit the gym just before closing. I wasn’t in a particularly gym friendly mood, but I guess V. felt like he needed to redeem himself after the I’m-so-masculine-I-can’t-shut-a-window episode, so he spent close to an hour attempting to intimidate me into lifting some dubious looking weights. Why I have to suffer whenever his masculinity is threatened by a middle aged skinny man I’ll never know.

On Saturday we headed for The Vyne, another mansion belonging to the National Trust. The weather was splendid and the place was packed with rubber welly wearing visitors strolling around the gardens and into the forest, picnicking and feeding the swans. We walked and walked, then visited the mansion, another beautifully preserved Victorian home with no Downton Abbey references this time. We spent a fair amount of time in their second hand bookshop, where I got Istanbul ( Orhan Pamuk ) and Saturday ( Ian McEwan ), and V., surprise surprise!!!, got 6 ( SIX!!! ) books. I am delighted to admit, humanity, that my book madness seems to have rubbed onto my until not long ago very reluctant book reading/collecting partner. I consider my mission on this planet complete and am expecting my super duper reward any day now. And to celebrate this miraculous development, the moment we got back to London on Sunday I donated a tiny shelf exclusively to his growing collection: a total of 9 ( Nine, can you believe it? That’s almost like, well, ten! ) books including a muscle encyclopedia, a Driving for Idiots guide, and other super duper manly stuff.

We spent the rest of the day in Newbury, walking around the market, taking photos and shopping (I bought a pair of shoes, oh happy day!, while V. got enough chocolate to last us at least a couple of years from now). We had dinner in a lovely pub by the river, the waters so high after the recent floods they almost reached the window sill, and ended the evening with The Lego Movie at the local cinema. It was V.’s movie choice and I wasn’t too crazy about the idea, but he’d been so well behaved getting all those books for himself earlier, not to mention that I was still high on shoe shopping euphoria, that I couldn’t say no. On retrospect, I probably should have given it more thought, as now he’s driving me crazy singing the everything is awesome song all day long, and every time I tell him to shut it he changes the lines to everything is awesome EXCEPT YOU! We’ll see how awesome everything is when I mistakenly put half a dozen of my red socks into the washer with his precious whites. Just saying.

We got back to London on Sunday afternoon, just in time for the weather to turn grey again (just for the day, thank God, today is splendidly sunny again), and celebrated our return by ordering more pizza than I care to remember (we’ve got enough leftovers to feed a small family for the rest of the week) and watching a couple of South Park episodes. I’m back to work now and to what looks like spring. We’ve got badminton and tech conferences in the coming evenings but my zombie laptop has been fixed for the millionth time and will be arriving today, so hopefully I’ll be able to post here a bit more often.

Until then, wishing you lots of sun and super duper awesome things!

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Sip of Happiness

We’d planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day by ordering an indecent selection of Domino’s pizzas and catching up on the last series of The Walking Dead. Romantic stuff, I know.

But on Friday at work, everybody was in such an ecstatic V Day mood, stuffing themselves with heart shaped chocolates, signing for humongous bouquets of dead red roses, blushing, giggling, and continuously expressing their outrage at my lack of Love Weekend plans, that I have to admit I pretty much succumbed to peer pressure and, after a bit of online begging, I managed to get a dinner reservation.

Of course every super duper image-of-poshness restaurant was booked for the evening, so I settled for the Ask Italian in Kew. It’s nothing too fancy, and V. and I have been there quite a bunch of times before, but it’s a place that’s always been dear to us. When we first moved to London, we didn’t go out much. Money was tight and we still hadn’t gotten the hang of how things worked in this country, you couldn’t exactly run back to mommy if something went wrong, and let’s not forget that I was absolutely-no-joke-about-it insane, worrying day in and day out that V. would break his click finger playing his stupid tennis and I wouldn’t be able to make ends meet by myself. So we mostly ate in and saved every penny, with dark no click finger futures in mind.

Every once in a blue moon, though, we went out for dinner, and several times we picked the Ask Italian. I still saw it as well beyond our means, indignantly batting my lashes at their £12 mains and £5 glasses of wine, but I embraced these rare occasions of dining luxury by wearing my red, dangerous lipstick and picking the most exotic sounding thing on the menu. Good times.

These days, Ask is just a nice place to have a good lunch after a long morning walk in Kew Gardens. Everybody is lovely, we’ve got our menu favourites, and you can pretty much always get a nice window table for two overlooking the Thames.

We did manage to get a window table on Friday. It’s true, it was overlooking their parking lot and terrace, but we’d only made the reservation hours before, and the place was packed, so we were very happy to have it. The weather outside being absolutely horrendous, with record breaking gales and the prospect of storm, it felt really nice sipping our glasses of Prosecco in the light of candles, surrounded by equally relaxed if a bit inebriated couples. The food was wonderful and too much for me to finish, which almost never happens. We chatted for a long time, about serious stuff like houses (of course!), our anniversary (it being only a couple of days away), how I leave my hairpins all over the place and it needs to stop (or this will be our last anniversary, surely; breakup by hairpin!), and then we talked about less life changing things, basically just poking fun at each other and calling each other this and that: blonde (that’s me), dumb (him), fat (both of us) and other lovely things lovers call each other on Valentine’s Day.

It amazes me how after all this time, we’re still the kind of couple I’d like to be friends with.

Hours later, after we’d barely managed to make it home through the winds from hell, there was an email waiting for me. My accountant, letting me know, in the middle of the night, that several months and a million piles of paperwork later, the bank had said yes to our mortgage inquiry.

I almost cried.

I’m typing this on my work laptop (my personal one’s still dead), propped between pillows in bed in this place where we’ve been both happy and sad. A glass of VR Cabernet on the nightstand. We first bought this wine when we found our initials on the label, and we’ve been regularly getting it since, because I like to have it in the house. It may not be the best of wines, but it’s ours, and it fills me with joy that we’ve got such things, our not so posh italian restaurant, our not so posh Cabernet, this somewhat our place we’ll soon be leaving for our home.

And yes, our random moments of happiness are likely not interesting enough to be worth putting into writing. They’re not going to make you want to click the like button, or start stalking me across the blogosphere, but hey, they’re ours and that’s all that matters.

 

P.S.: I never thought I’d say this in a million years but you know what, Valentine’s Day may just be turning into my new favourite holiday.

In the Air!

Yesterday we quickly dropped by our local M&S shop after work, to get V. his vital daily dose of chocolate coated sugar.

Now, I may not have mentioned this before, but V. is by far the pickiest sweet toothed human being ever to walk the earth, so it took us forever to find something more, as he put it, masculine looking, in what turned out to be an endless sea of bright pink, heart shaped, Be my Valentine themed calorie bombs.

I’m not the biggest chocolate fan myself and anyway I’ve been on a very strict non spending spree lately. So I haven’t been out much, and somehow managed to completely forget it was Valentine’s frenzy time. I know I know, I’m a terrible disappointment to the human race. But before you start with your “Your soul is as dry as a dry fig! Valentine’s Day is such an amazing, life changing holiday, second only to No Pants Day!” speeches, let me explain myself.

We don’t have Valentine’s Day in Romania. I mean, Communism finally gone and a million February romcoms later, we’re starting to get the picture that in order to be super duper cool, one needs to act super duper in love on this particular fateful day every year. Furthermore, one needs to book a table at every single restaurant in the neighbourhood, since you never know what your other half will wake up fancying on the big day, and spend half one’s salary on dead flowers and 50 shades of pink candy.

I get it, you know, I get it. I’ll never be cool. I’ll never be a candy, dead flowers person. And perhaps a hundred years from now, when I’ll be old and wise and still very much a hottie, I’ll look back on these times and regret having let so many Valentine’s Days go unnoticed. But for now, I guess I’m a bit of a Valentine’s Grinch, and you lovely Valentine’s frenzied people have no choice but to love my Grinchy self, it being the week of slushy love and all.

As luck would have it, our anniversary is on the 17th, so by the time most people will finally be on the path to recovery from their Valentine’s sugar induced comas, V. and I will have lived in sin for another exact number of years. As always, we’ve had to delay our anniversary trip by a week, as every restaurant, hotel and street corner is overbooked everywhere on the planet for the coming weekend of love. So we’ll be spending our Valentine’s + anniversary weekend eating pizza in bed watching zombie movies. Domino’s Pizza do deliver on Valentine’s, I’ve checked. Their souls must be as dry as dry figs as well.

50 Stories of Little Consequence

You know what? This marks my very own 50th post on London Geek.

– applause break –

I know I know, it means nothing in the big scheme of bloggy things, but it’s 49 more posts than I thought I’d be able to come up with in, like, ever. So yay for me!

Note to self on this extra special day: Write a huge, super duper funny post to let people know they’re more than welcome to correct my dodgy blogging English. Insist on the fact that I won’t use my Romanian mafia connections to make them pay if they dare to.

Note to self 2: Post something about vampires / Vampire Diaries / tips to dating a teenage werewolf. Surely it’s the only reason people stop by, Romania being so famously vampire friendly and all.

Note to self 3: It would be really lame if this were my last post, after all this I’m-so-cool-I-wrote-50-posts-bow-down-to-me-everybody business. Try and make it to at least 51.