I Moved House – Third Time in Three Years!

Ah, the university life…

I’m very well aware, as you may be, that many people, when going to university, live in halls for first year and then find some housemates and live in a house/flat/whatever for the successive two years, or however long they may be there for. Well… not me!

I lived in private halls in first year because I didn’t get offered the university-owned accommodation I wanted, and the one they did offer me was far too high a price. Instead, I was in a five-person self-catered ensuite flat, with four people I’d never met before. The staff had managed to group the five of us together as all first years at the same university (they served 3 in the area). It was an interesting year, involving far too much cigarette smoke coming into my bedroom, a melted fork in the oven, and maggots in the flat.

In second year, I chose to live with four other girls, three of whom were also doing history, the fourth doing English. It was actually quite funny as I was the only monolingual of the group – the other languages spoken were Welsh, Punjabi, Greek, and Portuguese. This was a slightly turbulent living situation – two of us preferred to be far tidier than the others, and one housemate actually moved out shortly after Christmas. But, aside from the hiccups, it was a nice house, recently refurbished, with two bathrooms and it was close to the university – though on the other side of campus to my first year, not that this made all that much difference.

So what happened this year? Well, almost from the beginning, one of my second year housemates said they were planning to live with other people in her third year. Then another wanted to live in a different area to where we were – further from the university, where we didn’t want to move to. So we were down to three, until the whole oh-wait-she’s-moved-out thing. This left two of us trying to find an affordable two-bed student rental house, preferably close to university, after Christmas – by which time most of the properties have been taken up. (Top tip: when looking for second and third year accommodation, figure out what you want as fast as you can in October and GET LOOKING!)

If we’d known it would have been just the two of us early on, we probably could have grabbed a lovely, fairly cheap place. As it is, we have a pretty small, slightly shabby house – but it’s actually a tad closer to university than last year, and the bills are included in the rent which is slightly cheaper than it was last year (though my third year loan is smaller too, thanks government).

Moving in at the beginning of this month was a bit of a nightmare, largely because the property wasn’t actually clean. Not too big an ask of somewhere you’re paying a large amount of rent to, right? For it to be clean when you move in? Well, apparently, yes it is. Spiders – both dead and alive – were everywhere. Cobwebs everywhere, too. Sticky floor. The whole shebang. It’s taken a good while to settle in here. Then there was a bit of an issue where I didn’t know where what felt like half my belongings were – at this point my things were spread between two houses in Liverpool, one in Telford, and one at home in Hertfordshire! Thus, it took a bit of time to pool everything together.

See, I actually don’t mind moving – I’d go so far as to say I quite like it. The variety suits me well, and I know it can be a hassle (thanks mum & dad), but all the same… it keeps things changing. I realise many people dislike change as a whole, but particularly when it comes to the changing of home comforts – I can’t say that’s something I find too challenging, but I understand why others do.

So yes, I’m in this place for a little under a year – I don’t plan on going home for all that long over Christmas and Easter this year, probably under a month in total, so I’ll probably be here until the end of the tenancy at the end of June 2019. Then, of course, I’ll be graduating from university and moving back home… which I’m just thrilled about, by the way (sense the sarcasm – next weekend’s post will address this a bit further). In consequence, this is probably the last time I’ll move house (aside from moving out) for a while, which makes me a little wistful, to be honest. But I suppose if I don’t have to spend months searching for where to live for the following year, I might have to put that time into pursuing other, possibly more productive, pursuits… we’ll see.

One thing I’m infinitely glad about, though? After this year, I’ll never have to deal with student landlords again! If you’ve experienced it, you know. If not… be glad.

Have you got any moving-house stories? Let me know!

A Day in London: Lenin’s House, Greek Artefacts, Westminster Abbey!

One of the (admittedly very limited) perks of where I live is how fast you can access London while not actually living inside it. So when a friend texted me saying she had a ticket returning from London that she needed to use, and suggested a day together in London, I was all for it. To stick to our budgets, we planned the day in advance and had a list of things we wanted to see which went in a convenient line towards the Thames.

We were considering looking around the Platform 9 3/4 shop as our first stop, seeing as we would both be arriving at King’s Cross within minutes of each other, but as it’s the summer holidays, there was quite the queue going on. How I miss the days when it first arrived, and even when the trolley sticking out of the wall first arrived, and you could look around with no problems… Alas, those days are long gone. (Unless you arrive at King’s Cross around midnight after seeing a show at the West End on a Thursday night, in which case it’s usually deserted and you can take photos no problem. I’ve done this many times.)

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So, our first stop was the British Library. Neither of us had visited it before, and while you can’t see much of it without being a member, the atrium was pretty cool, and the shop was really good. A lot of the books they had on display at the front of the shop were to do with the 1917 Russian Revolution and the years afterwards, as they are currently running an exhibition on it.

There were some really ornate copies of the books as well; one of my favourites was this copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Once we’d spent a good half an hour or so having a nosy around and buying postcards and the like, we headed for our second destination of the day: the British Museum. We had travelcards, so we could have just saved ourselves the time (and the rain) by hopping on the bus or the tube, but if you’re having a leisurely day in London, why miss out on the sights? Plus, I’d brought my new camera with me and was determined to get some good shots, like this one of the Bloomsbury Coffee House:

And this one of Ghandi in Tavistock Square (a place which I had never heard of but hey-ho, that’s what exploring is for):

Not to mention that we also found, rather by accident, the former residence of Vladimir Lenin, who had spent a brief time living in London a few years after the 1905 Revolution. We found this rather fitting, considering the exhibition we had just left. It looks surprisingly humble, sandwiched between a B&B and what is now Albany Hotel. I would definitely recommend blue-plaque-spotting in London, even just for the amusing ones – two doors down from Lenin’s was Jerome K Jerome, an English writer with just a great name.

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Some considerable time later, we arrived at the British Museum. I’ve been there a few times before over the years, though not recently. We mainly just wanted to see the Greek and Roman galleries while we were there – after all, you can take history students out of the classroom and all they’ll do is find the history in the real world. Who isn’t at least slightly curious about those two ancient civilisations anyway? I won’t bore you with all the photos of the galleries, just the highlights:

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(You may notice, as I have, that a lot of the artefacts in the British Museum are either headless, limbless, or torso-less. A lot of the Egyptian artefacts are missing noses. We actually saw a sign in one of the Greek galleries which informed us that the heads of the statues we were standing in front of were in a gallery in Greece. That’s the real definition of being all over the place!)

Our third destination of the day was a particular favourite of mine: Trafalgar Square. I don’t know why I like it so much, but it just always has such a good atmosphere whenever I’m there. It feels a bit like its own little world, to be honest. We didn’t make it inside the National Gallery, but we did find two Pikachus, two floating Yodas, a floating Grim Reaper, and a Mad Hatter (who jumped out at me and made me scream) wandering around, together with a guitar-playing busker. There was also a thumb statue which I’m fairly certain wasn’t there two years ago, when I last visited… Trafalgar Square can be the most bizarre place.

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Time was moving on by this point, so we had to skip the National Gallery in order to make it to somewhere my friend was particularly keen to visit: Westminster Abbey. By the time we left Trafalgar Square, we had actually missed the standard weekday last entry to the Abbey, but on Wednesdays they have half price late entry until 6pm – again, highly recommend. I only have limited photos of Westminster Abbey as photos inside the building are not allowed, but I’ll give you a brief rundown of what’s inside…

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When you get inside, it’s a sort of one-way system. The first object (is object the right word?) of note is the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I, which was about as stately and extravagant as you’d imagine. You can walk all the way around it; it’s in a small room off the main floor. Next is Henry VII’s Lady Chapel, which includes the RAF Chapel and Battle of Britain window. On the other side of the Lady Chapel is the tomb of Mary Queen of Scots, again as extravagant as you’d expect. Then there’s Poets’ Corner, where you can find burials and commemorations of the likes of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens.

On the other side of the Abbey, you have Scientists’ Corner, where you’ll find Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. There’s the Grave of the Unknown Warrior and a Sir Winston Churchill memorial, and finally, the Coronation Chair.

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And that’s about all we got up to! When we left Westminster Abbey, we got the tube back to King’s Cross rather than walk all the way back up again. I love days exploring cities like this, I always find things I wasn’t looking for, especially in London. Here’s hoping for many more days like it in the future…

Katy x

A BUSY WEEKEND

This post is slightly different, because it’s been written over three days – as those three days happened. I thought I’d take you on the journey with me. Enjoy!

Friday

12:04pm. Oh. My. Goodness. I’m starting this blog post sitting in Starbucks once again, much like on Wednesday, (still no food in the flat) except today is Friday. To be more specific, it’s Friday lunchtime and I’m eating a surprisingly delicious salmon bagel in here in somewhat of a hurry because IT IS SUCH A BUSY WEEKEND.

My lectures finished yesterday evening and I’ve got my train home tomorrow morning, so today is my day of getting absolutely everything done. I’m talking all the household chores, packing, returning books to the library, and – most importantly of all – renting a house! That part took up all of my morning, from walking to a second viewing to going all the way down by the city centre to the agency to book it (that was about a four mile round trip), but I now officially have a place to live come next September. What a relief.

So, now, I am currently waiting for one of the friends I’ll be living with to come meet me so I can pass on some sheets for signing to her before she goes home, then I’ve got to hoof it to the library (half way across campus from here) to give another friend the same sheets (and return the library books) before she goes home. Then I have the delightful task of figuring out how to pack enough clothes, shoes, various other sundry items and all my study things that I’ll need before I go home. And I need to be able to carry it all… I shall keep you updated.

Ooooooh, I’ve just remembered I need to file a maintenance request in my flat about the shower… damn it… I’ll do that later. To the library!

15:44pm. I’ve seen both the friends, returned the books, returned to the flat and have almost finished packing, and it’s about blooming time. My gym clothes are apparently determined to stay too damp to pack for a while yet though. Oh well. I can’t believe it’s getting dark already, there’s still so much to do! *yawns*

18:54pm. Dishes, hoovering, everything but the bathroom… finally done. And, much like lunch, I have nothing in for dinner either so I’m eating a cheap pizza from Lidl. The rest of my evening will consist of a) cleaning the bathroom, and b) writing my book! No rest for the wicked 😉

By the way, my gym clothes STILL AREN’T DRY. It’s been 24 hours since I washed them, come on already!

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Saturday

07:39am. I am currently standing outside reception waiting for a taxi! I had such a struggle getting everything into my suitcase (those pesky sports clothes just about dried) and getting it down the stairs.

08:35am. I have made it onto the train, at long last. It doesn’t leave for another ten-ish minutes, but can I just take this moment to say OH. MY. GOODNESS. (Once again). It’s so much like a flight but better, and I even managed to book a seat with a table and plug socket, and there’s onboard entertainment!

I’m typing this on my laptop, with full intentions of writing my book on the journey, and watching Beauty and the Beast on my phone. I can’t think of anything else to say but OH. MY. GOODNESS. Best journey ever.

09:18am. This is great. Every journey should be liked this. It’s extremely foggy outside. But now someone’s about to sit next to me… oh dear.

17:27pm. Good news is nobody ever came to sit next to me! My train arrived early, so I found my dad waiting for me in Euston and we sat in Starbucks for just long enough to let some of the crowds pass. Then it was the Underground to Barnet, then he drove us from Barnet back home. I actually arrived home around one, but I was literally only there long enough to distribute some belongings around the house (isn’t that what every student does when they arrive home?) and eat some bread for lunch before it was off out again!

This time it was to meet my two best friends in town, albeit quite briefly, as one of them was working in the café where we saw each other, the other was hungover, and I was kind of tired and in a hurry anyway. We had a short little reunion, then I had to go again, this time because I had absolutely no toiletries whatsoever at home and – also quite important – no pillows. I can now report I have both.

Sunday

15:58pm. Hello again! The rest of last night was me being home for all of about an hour, then me, my parents and brother went out to an Indian restaurant for dinner. I hadn’t had a curry in so many months, I specifically asked we go there – but by this point I have discovered that my brother has, between late last night and earlier today, eaten all of mine and my mum’s leftovers. Nice to know some things haven’t changed in three months… I was quite tired by the end of it so pretty much just collapsed into bed.

Now though, I have unpacked, caught up on some Big Bang Theory and am at a friend’s house. I felt a bit odd waking up in my room this morning, partly because it didn’t really feel like my room somehow. I mean, I hadn’t unpacked by that point and half my belongings are still in Liverpool, but it’s been a significant three months. For one thing, because I’ve been working out, I am now distinctly taller than my mother! (I’m quite smug about that.) But I feel like it is probably time to end this blog post. I hope it wasn’t too clunky or boring, it’s just been a really long couple of days talking to a lot of people, getting a lot of things done, and travelling home.

So, with a raised glass of the non-alcoholic mulled wine I have in my hand, I shall leave you!

Katy x