Wednesday, 30 April 2014

#87: Play Tennis

With nice spring weather finally upon us, I played tennis properly for the first time since high school. Was a lot of fun, if a bit creaky knees.

Monday, 28 April 2014

#239: Go to a fancy dress party

Otherwise known as a costume party, fancy dress parties are much more common in the UK than in the US, at least amongst my circle of friends. Over here, people are known to have fancy dress boxes and even whole sections of a wardrobe dedicated to various fun fancy dress outfits, wigs, glasses, hats, etc worn over the years. And unlike Americans, the English don't take themselves too seriously when doing it either. Americans tend to like to look smart and/or sexy. The British don't care about how they look, they just want a good costume and to make sure they aren't the only one dressing up.

I went as a 60's Hippy in this costume: (Note: This is not me)
 Photo credit: Top: Shutterstock

Happiest people make the best of everything...

Photo credit: wordsoverpixels

Sunday, 27 April 2014

#238: Play 'I never'

In keeping with the current 'college theme' I seem to have going on at the moment, 'I never...' (also known as "Never have I ever") was a staple of my college drinking days. It's a drinking game where people sit in a circle and one person goes first by making a TRUE statement that begins with "I never...." For example, "I've never been to Disneyland." Then, if any other player has done what the person said, they simply stand up (so it's easy to tell who's done it) and drink.

Games like this are great ice breakers and help people get to know each other (assuming people are being honest). As with Truth or Dare, the game has a tendency to be based on relationships and sex.

Being older now, I have to say I enjoyed playing this much more than I did at University because my friends and I have lived more, both good and bad, and so there's more inappropriate and outlandish possibilities/behaviour to choose from.

I haven't laughed this much in a while.

Photo: Shutterstock

Friday, 25 April 2014

#86: Take a dog for a walk

Photo credit: Liupco Smokovski / Shutterstock

There's something very therapeutic about walking a dog on a nice spring day. My friend has a 8 month old Saluki, who spent hours running around the park I took him to. On second thought, I think it was the dog that actually took me for a walk ...

Thursday, 24 April 2014

#237: Spontaneous road trip to an out of town party

Do you remember when you were young and just did things because they sounded like fun? Before adult life and responsibilities took hold and you found yourself with weekend plans scheduled weeks, if not months, in advance?

When I was younger, I didn't bat an eyelid about driving 3 hours to a friends house for a spur of the moment party. Somehow as I've gotten older I've lost a bit of spontaneity as if I couldn't possibly do something unless it was thought out and well planned weeks in advance.

But I'm not going to meet people and expand my horizons if I say no and hide away at home. So when a new friend invited me and another friend to Brighton for her birthday party I knew this was on my list and immediately said yes. It's amazing what can be sorted out last minute. We found a place to stay and got to enjoy a brilliant party. Best of all I got to meet new people that someday I also hope to call my friends. It reminded me of the first days of University, lots of fun and excitement, new and old friends mixing together just enjoying a fun day out.

Sometimes you just need to say yes, take your chances and see what life has in store...

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

#85: Take a knife skills (cooking) class

Photo credit: gosphotodesign / Shutterstock

Vegetables beware.

As I've mentioned previously, I'm not much of a cook, so taking a knife skills class has been something I've been meaning to do for a while. I took a basic workshop, that was designed to introduce the enthusiastic amateur to knife skills. Focusing on vegetable and fruit preparation, I learned to chop, slice and dice like a pro.

But if you're coming over for dinner please don't expect perfect juliennes, batons and chiffonades. If you do, I may have to use my other knife skills on you...
Photo credit: Randi Berez

Sunday, 20 April 2014

#236: Have a sleep over

When was the last time you had a sleepover? I'm not talking about the romantic variety. I'm talking about a group of single-sex friends (without partners) that stay at your place and wake up in the morning laughing about the night before. It's something that you do as kids but then as you get older and grow up it's something that you grow out of. Partly out of necessity and practicalities because we prefer our significant others and partly because sleeping on the floor in a sleep bag or sharing a bed with a friend loses it's appeal after a certain age. But the fun of having friends around in the evening and in the morning can bring out the child in everyone. I highly recommend!

Photo credit: Shutterstock

#84: See London from the Top of the Shard

Photos credit: The Shard

For those that don't know, The Shard is a new building in London that opened to the public in Feb 2013, and at 72 stories tall, is not only London's tallest building, but it's also the tallest building in the EU. On a clear day you supposedly can see for 40 miles. Given London is normally rainy, however, most people will have to make do with Big Ben, The Eye, St Paul's and Tower Bridge. It's the best view in town, even on a rainy day. I highly recommend scheduling your viewing for sunset.

Friday, 18 April 2014

#83: Take a walk in Regent's Park

A good escape from the crowds of central London is this walk which takes in Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill:

Enter Regent’s Park via York Gate on Marylebone Road. Once one of Henrys VIII’s hunting parks it is now one of London’s Royal Parks. The park is surrounded by grand Regency terraces and there are 8 villas dotted along the Outer Circle and Inner Circle. Start by walking through the Inner Circle to Queen Mary’s Garden, home to an amazing rose garden.

Amble through the park taking in the boating lake towards the NE corner.

On the northern edge of the park is the Regent’s canal and London Zoo. If you walk along the canal you should be able to see some of the animals on the other side. From the zoo entrance on the Outer Circle you can see the giraffe enclosure.

Exit the park across the Primrose Hill Bridge over the canal and then cross Prince Albert Road to Primrose Hill. Walk up to the summit to enjoy dramatic views across London.

Exit the park onto Regent’s Park Road, the main street through beautiful Primrose Hill “village”. The boutiques and eateries of Regent’s Park Road are perfect places for celebrity spotting. From here it’s a short walk to Haverstock Hill and Chalk Farm station.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

#235: See an old friend I haven't seen in a while

I'm terrible about keeping in touch with people. Moving to England has only made the situation worse because it's harder for me to pop in or be in the neighborhood. Facebook is great for keeping in touch with key moments but nothing beats seeing someone face to face. So I was thrilled when my old college roommate (and main partner in crime in New York) came to London recently.

Almost 10 years had passed since we spent any real time together and it was great to just pick up where we left off. Good friendships are like that and I'm glad that this one, that is so important to me, had been able to withstand the distance that sometimes happens in life.

There are things in life...

Saturday, 12 April 2014

#234: Have a golf lesson

I've long recognised that I need professional help.

I also need a golf lesson if my game is ever going to improve to a point that's not embarrassing. ;-)

So off I went in hopes of straightening myself out. Sadly there's only so much a poor guy can do in an hour, given what he has to work with. But it was good to get some pointers so that if I ever make it to a driving range I have a better idea of what I should and shouldn't be doing.

Photo: Shutterstock

#80: Make out in a changing room

Photo credit: Stuart Robertson / Alamy

Careful consideration should go into picking the right room. Top tip: A spacious dressing room is always best - go for the handicapped room.

Sometimes you just gotta push the boat out a little...

Thursday, 10 April 2014

#79: Learn to make risotto

Yes, cooking things are decidedly middle age...but then again so am I now. This is admittedly one of the more dull ones I'm going to publish but, let's face it, it's not like I can usually be found swinging from the rafters every evening so I might as well show more of my quiet, domestic, side as well.

I only really started to cook a few years ago. Living in NYC, my idea of cooking was to pick up the phone and order take out to be delivered. So one thing that's been on my cooking list is to learn how to make a nice risotto, which I've been told was difficult to get right sometimes.

Photo credit: Marco Mayer / Shutterstock

On a recommendation from a friend, I went with Jaime Oliver's recipe for Risotto of Radicchio, Bacon, Rosemary, and Red Wine. It turned out ok. By which I mean, it was edible.

I could do with some more practice.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

#233: Spend a day gardening

Before and after

I am currently on gardening leave while I work out my notice period for my old job, before I start my new job. I love to potter in the garden, and living in London I'm lucky enough to have a patio, but it's a far cry from the kind of real garden I grew up with in the country.

My friend is a professional gardener who has a fantastic gardening business in London, Hedgehoggs, so it was a real treat to be able to join her gardening in a proper garden for a day. The fact that it was Nigel Slater's garden made it even more special! Being ankle deep in compost and hedge clippings and having sore muscles the next day was well worth it when you can see what a difference a hard day's graft makes. Made me appreciate how easy my desk job is and realise THAT (gardening) is a real job.

If you live in or near London and need any sort of gardening or maintenance work done, give Hedgehoggs a call!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

#77: Find the best burger in London

As an American, and particularly a New Yorker, I take my burgers seriously. There's just something about the right type of burger, seasoned properly, with good cheese, bun and accessories (pickle, lettuce, & tomato) that for me equates to happiness on a plate. This is doubled if paired with good skinny fries as well.

I've been searching for a place in London that can compare to my favourite NYC burger, The Corner Bistro Burger, and am happy to say I've found it at Lucky Chip. Fortunately for me, there's one near where I live. This new knowledge however might have implications for how my new wardrobe will fit in the future.

above: Lucky Chip burger and fries. below: Corner bistro burger

Sunday, 6 April 2014

#76: Have a facial

Now that I've reached a certain age, my skin isn't what it used to be. Some days I wake up thinking (knowing?) that my skin is punishing me for my poor life choices. The enlarged pores and spotty skin that I was so concerned about a few years ago has been replaced by tell-tale signs of crow's feet, smile lines, worry lines and frown lines.
Photo credit: Yuganov Konstantin  / Shutterstock

I know an hour face mask won't undo a lifetime of abuse but I can pamper myself and at least get rid of the circles under my eyes, wiping away just a little of the evidence of my recent indulgences.
Photo credit: gosphotodesign / Shutterstock

Besides, there's something about feeling like your skin is at its best to boost your confidence...which is what my list is really all about.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

#232: Take a cooking class

While I'm comfortable around a BBQ, I'm not very confident in the kitchen, particularly with fish. I like fish but I have my staples of easy bake and pan fry recipes that I go back to time and again because I don't know anything different. For years I've wanted to know more about how to cut and cook fish and so I finally booked myself on a cooking class to tackle this list item.
 And I'm so glad I did! I signed up for a cooking class at L'atelier des Chefs and I have to say it was one of the best things I could have done. In addition to learning 3 great fish recipes in a hands-on cooking class, I also learned some practical knife skills like how to fillet Dover Sole and Sea Bream and how to clean a Squid.
The end result was Grilled Calamari with Thai dipping sauce, steamed baked Sea Bream and Sole Goujons. Fantastic! (If I do say so myself)

Friday, 4 April 2014

#75: Buy new clothes / update my wardrobe

Photo Credit: Gurza / Shutterstock
 "There is nothing that makes a woman feel better about herself than buying a new wardrobe. In fact, be wild and crazy. Buy clothes you would never have thought of buying in the past. Have fun with it."
Photo credit: VannPhotography / Shutterstock
I'm somewhat surprised it took me this long to get to this one since one of the rights of passage for the newly single is the traditional out with the old wardrobe, in with the new and flirty wardrobe. But I wasn't really ready for it until now. Having lost weight and cleaned out my closet, I realised that I had very few clothes I could actually fit into and wanted to wear. So out I went in search of post-breakup, secret weapon outfits in my wardrobe. Out went the clothes that reminded me of the Ex and that no longer worked. I'm now restocking my closet with items that make me feel beautiful, sexy and confident.
Photo credit: gpointstudio / shuuterstock

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

#74: Donate clothes to charity

With the closet cleaned out, literally and figuratively, I knew I would find myself with a pile of unwanted clothes. Next on the list is: Donate clothes to charity, so off I went to Oxfam.

#231: Lose 45 lbs

I had gained a lot of weight over last 10 years and before my break up I made up my mind that I didn't want to be 40 years old and fat, so went about trying to lose weight. I set little milestones along the way, lose 10lbs, 15lbs, etc, ultimately reaching a big target: to weigh less than I did 10 years before. I didn't think it was likely that I would sustain that weight, and I thought even less likely that I could lose another 5lbs. My weight fluctuated a lot over the last year,, but I'm happy to say that I've dropped more weight, bringing my total weight loss to 45lb (3 stone) from my heaviest. I can now see my crows feet, which my former plumpness hid, but I feel fantastic. Now the hard work continues of keeping it off.

Photo: Shutterstock