Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 27, Liverpool

Hello. Well, the days go past slowly... I'm sort of enjoying the calmness this weekend because next week wont be as calm, I have apartments to look at and there will be a trip down to London to visit friends, REALLY looking forward to that, its going to be so much fun.

A few days ago we were in town, and walked past a guy holding lots of shopping bags. I remember looking at them thinking "Oh Flannels! Where the heck is that store located, I want to go..." and then I looked up. It was Joe Allen! No wonder he had like 3 bags from Flannels... He was out with his girlfriend, their little baby in a pram and either his or her mom. Both David and I REALLY wanted to go up and say hi and ask for a picture, but I got way, WAY too shy and didnt dare to. I regret that now, having a picture with him would have been amazing. Oh well.

Speaking of... We were at Tesco today for some food shopping, and I finally got to see the Scouse women who go out with their hair in hair rollers! Unbelievable, I would rather be dead than doing that. reminded me of when we went to a restaurant in town in june (The Restaurant Bar & Grill) and I went to the toilet... The amount of makeup girls wear here! Mind you, I wear a LOT of makeup going out but I felt like I barely had anything on. They never wear coats either, which baffled me even more. Maybe because I am from up north in Sweden, when we go out there we have THICK coats on so you barely see the dress underneath. Here they walk around in town in ONLY the dress. I got cold just seeing them. Apparently that restaurant is sort of a hangout for footballers and such so the girls dress up to the nine and hang around in the bar. I did spy some gorgeous dresses though.

Anyway, moving on... Food shopping! In Sweden (Lots of that now!) most eggs you buy are white, and brown eggs are way more expensive and packed in clear boxes so you can see that they are brown. I always bought brown eggs for breakfast and such where you could see the shell, and white ones for cooking since they felt more common and didn't look as delicious. Here its the other way around, most eggs are brown (thats standard) and white eggs are sold in packages and named "Posh Bird"!! I laughed so much when I saw that, its all about context isn't it?

I've also had the chance to taste some British food things, like chips (Pommes frites for you swedes, we are still fighting that battle here...) with vinegar on, and today a little meat and potato pie from a local bakery. They came fresh from the oven when we came in and they tasted amazing. What could go wrong with meat, pastry and potato? Will definitely have more of those. Next on the list is fish and chips, its strange that I haven't had that yet here actually!

I also still sort of double take when I walk past the wine and alcohol areas in say, Tesco. It looks so strange to me with all the bottles next to the regular food. That's what you get when you come from a country where its available from one store only. Its so convenient this! I use wine quite often in sauces and food in general, and not having to go to a special store to get a decent one and not just cooking wine that taste rank is definitely appreciated. Oh, and not only do they have it everywhere, there is also a store called Bargain Booze where, yeah, they sell really cheap alcohol. Its SUCH a scummy place you have no idea. I haven't been inside but we drive past one every time we go into town and I still snigger over it. I'm such a child.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 24, Liverpool

Well there always seem to be some kind of trouble and confusion here! But next wednesday we are actually going to look at rooms and apartments. I misunderstood the pricing a bit, because apparently bills are not included by default here, but I finally gathered some courage and called a letting agent and told them I needed something furnished with all bills included, so its sorted now and I'll be showed something suitable. Christ.

I've noticed something funny here, in England there is not the same system as in Sweden, here the estate agents handle rental apartments as well, and since you can actually own your own apartment here you get lots of private landlords, who in turn use the letting agents to handle the administration. Very interesting for an aspiring lawyer! So now I have lots of paperwork to get in order, sigh.

It was my birthday on Monday, and it was lovely. I was woken up to breakfast and gifts on the table. I got a pretty Liverpool shirt with Allen on, a polka dot dressing gown, a bottle of nailpolish from OPI that I have been wanting since forever (OPI Ink!!) and a cuddly horse from the movie Brave! We then went to West Kirby which is by the sea and went out for a walk on the Lido, it was windy and we got some sprays but I loved it, the smell of the salty sea is one of my favourites.

Later that evening, I was told to dress up nicely for dinner, and we got in the car and drove to the city centre. I had no idea where we were going at first but then we turned onto Hope Street... yes, 60 Hope Street, where we had a lovely meal. We both had the roast breast of corn fed chicken with pan fried potato gnocchi, pancetta and tomato petals for main (I'm quoting this from their website, sorry I couldnt remember all of that by heart...) and it was just sooo good, served in a simple broth that was just bursting with flavour. For dessert I had raspberry bavarois with milk chocolate malteser parfait amd frangelico chocolate sauce. Don't ask me what a bavarois is, but it tasted like a mousse, set on a base of marzipan cake. Frangelico is a liqueur if I'm not mistaken. The malteser parfait was like nothing else I've tasted, so smooth and tasted so much of milk chocolate. 

We have also managed to buy tickets for two more games at Anfield, so we will be there at both the 4th and the 7th october. The 4th is an Europa League game against Udinese, and the 7th is a PL one against Stoke. I bloody hate Stoke so hopefully we will win that one. We have AMAZING seats at the Udinese one, and ok ones at the PL game. We got the Stoke tickets on general sale so we had to make do with what we could get. We COULD get tickets to the Fulham game as well but there are only quite crappy seats left so it didnt seem worth the price.

I'm hoping I'll have something more interesting to share soon, like pictures from Leicester and some Uni things, for now its just a lot of organizing going on here and trying to sort out courses and such. I'm really getting to practice making phone calls and not procrastination here!

I also got to Skype with Emma this Sunday, which was much needed, even though I do love it here it is hard to not have your friends around, especially now before Uni has started when I'm mostly in the house with David. Anyway, wish me luck with the rooms and apartments, hopefully I have signed a contract next week!

Xxxx M

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Day 19, Liverpool

So I got to stay! It has been a long wait but finally we got to talk to a nice woman at CSN who actually knew how this worked. I won't dare jinxing this too much before I actually have the money in my account, but apparently I only have to send a letter from Leicester Uni to them to confirm I am participating in my studies as I should. Not entirely sure I understand what good that would do, but if the woman says that is all I need thats good enough for me.

We havent been doing much here since I last wrote to be honest. I got the results from one exam where I failed with one lousy point, which resulted in a bit of a meltdown here when all the tension built up just... released. I wrote a lengthy blogpost about that but in the end it felt a bit too personal so I ended up scrapping that. There were tears and sobbing en masse, but its better now and everything will be fine.

On Monday its my birthday, and David has bought me a gift. He dropped me off at John Lewis (Sort of like Åhléns but bigger, for the Swedish people) and I strolled around looking at glossy KitchenAids and other fun kitchen stuff. It dawned on me there that I'll get to buy a lot of these things for the apartment I'm getting for the year being here, and that warmed a fair bit. Then David came back with a HUGE bag from the Disney store. That man knows me too well. He did mumble something about "I asked them for a plain bag but they didnt have any..." but I'm quite happy knowing I'll get something Disney! Woop!

I'm trying ot get things planned so I'll have stuff to entertain me with, its going fairly well. Yesterday we went to a restaurant to sort of send off Davids little sister who moved into Liverpool city centre today to start University. It was all great fun, I got to meet the other, elder sister as well and we probably annoyed the waiters to no end since we all ordered from both the specials menu and the regular menu and then swapped plates when they served them...

Today I've been listing up some apartments I want to see, I have five interesting ones, fingers crossed that I can get one of them! We are going to Leicester on Tuesday and hopefully we can view all five. I was offered a student room at Leicester Uni but they were in the oldest buildings, just a room with a bed, little desk and a wardrobe, and to be honest I have been living on my own too long to be able to handle a shared kitchen. Even staying here with Davids family is a bit hard, I'm used to planning and cooking all of my own meals and its just different here. But its also very comfortable the nights where I just get served a hot meal with no effort. I'm quite blessed.

Tomorrow I have a Skype date planned with a friend, which I look forward to a lot. I really do miss my friends, even though I love it here more than anything.

Xxxx M

Monday, September 10, 2012

Liverpool vs Arsenal, Anfield

 So, since I have very little to do at the moment besides waiting for my results to come in from my exams, I am trying to be productive and put up some of the pictures from Anfield. We went there last Sunday, over a week ago now, to see the game against Arsenal. I still don't know how I managed to get those tickets, when they went down to general sale there were 892 tickets left. 892 out of 45276. David and I had both set our alarms for the online sale, and when it started I was quick as a weasel, and when I logged in there were actually tickets left! I barely checked where we would be seated, I just clicked on the first area that came up, which was the Centenary stand, upper tier. I think they had tickets for Anfield Road as well, but I didnt really look that closely.

When I was about to log in to give my address, something went wrong, since I left my Swedish address and they are different to an English one. Again and again, it sent me back to the form, I could feel the stress building since they only hold your tickets for 10 minutes. I dont yet have an official membership since I am moving, and havent come round to it, so I had to fill in all of my personal info on the site. Frustrated, I tried logging in with my dads address, but no. All sold out. Crying as a fountain since I thought the tickets were gone, I texted David telling him I didnt get them. He had been a bit slower than me and only offered one ticket, and then had to leave for work. So that was it, we wouldn't get any tickets.

I dont know why, but at this point, I logged into my email, and there I see it, an email with my login code from Liverpool FC. Shaking, I typed in the code, and it sent me through. There they were, my two tickets. I couldn't believe it, simply couldn't believe it, and while I typed in my credit card info I still couldn't believe it. But then came the verification email that I had purchased two tickets to Liverpool vs Arsenal. More crying. Joyful tears this time. I forwarded the email to David, and an hour or so later I got the response: "How the hell did you do that???". I dont know. But on Sunday, 2nd September 2012, we went to Anfield. They lost, but the magic was like nothing else. Here are some pictures:

 The program. I squealed like a little pig when I got this in my hand, bought from the little stall outside the turnstiles. Turnstiles btw, narrow buggers!


Our view. We were high, HIGH up, by the roof, but I didnt care. Not at all. I was just happy to be there, singing along to the songs and watching our boys play.

Some pictures of the field. David took most of these since I am royally crap with a camera.

 Arsenal boys warming up. Ramsey is one of them, ahem...


The Kop. This was a HUGE banner, and it travelled all over the Kop at the start of the game. Impressive, and sent shivers down your spine seeing it.

This was my first trip to Anfield, but hopefully not the last. I'm very happy I got to share that experience with David as well.

Xxxx M

Wales vs Belgium, Cardiff City Stadium

So, last Friday David and I got into his cute little Ford Fiesta, put our seatbelts on and drove down to Cardiff, where Wales welcomed Belgium for a World Cup qualifier. The drive is supposed to take 3,5 hours, but we weren't that lucky... An accident on the M5 had us queuing for a good hour, so all in all, it took us at least 5 hours to get down to Cardiff, a quick pit stop for food included. We believed the game would be played at the Millenium stadium, but that wasnt the case either, instead, it was Cardiff City letting out their home arena for the game. The stadium was far from full, which meant we had pretty awesome seats even though we bought the just a few days ahead of the game, five rows up and basically right by the half way line. Oh yes.

 Here is David, maybe a little less than happy that I shoved my camera up in his face and grinned like a maniac while taking pictures of him. Note the scruff. Very nice and even huh? That's my boy... man.

 The Belgian part! They were smashed into a corner and had managed to fill it to the brim. Note the leftover spilling over to the right... They sang nicely! Also, they had a huge banner with "Respect for Gary Speed" at the beginning, which I thought was a nice touch.

Snap of the field. This is how close we were! I SUCK at taking pictures, there is a blurry one on my camera of Aaron ramsey throwing the ball in RIGHT in front of me. No wonder I got a bit too exited and didnt manage to keep the bloody camera steady...

I forced David to take this one. That is how good of a boyfriend he is. Note how its very sharp. Hrmpf, its no challenge when you are a man...

I was mostly there to see Ramsey and Allen, watching Joe Allen play was my excuse to go to this game, we all know I just wanted to ogle Ramsey. Yes, I'm bad. Allen didn't play at all though, apparently he had a virus (David is mumbling "bad excuse..." here). David was mostly there to watch Belgium. They crushed Wales 2-0, but to be fair, Wales had one of their center backs sent off after just half an hour and played most of this game on ten men. Belgium did field an awesome starting XI, though, with 8 out of 11 players playing in the PL. So we got to see both Hazard and Kompany play, among many others.

We had trouble even finding the stadium at first, but as we were walking, both dead set on not asking for directions, a Welsh man walked past us with a huge Wales flag tied around his waist. So we followed him, and a big group of Belgians, and eventually, we found the Stadium with a comfortable 20 minutes to kick off. I was quite amazed when the game ended how calm everyone was. It was quite late (7.45 pm kick off) and Wales had lost, I was convinced there would be at least a tense feeling going back, and we had even agreed on taking a taxi back to the car, but when we got out, it didnt feel necessary at all. Everyone was nice, not an argument in sight, so we ended up just strolling back to the car in the stream of people making their way back to the city centre.

The car ride back was fairly easy for me, I slept in the back seat curled into my knitted jumper, since David had the aircon on full blast so he wouldn't fall asleep. I wish I could have helped him drive, but I dont have an international drivers license and I definitely do not dare to drive here! Wrong (right, hehe) side of the road and all...

Anyway, I'll do an Anfield post later!

Xxxx M

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 10, Liverpool

This waiting is killing me. I found out this morning that weepy letter got rejected by the student grant people, so now I can only hope that our appeal against the rejection goes through or that I passed one of the exams I wrote. I'm not so sure since I only had two days to prepare for one and a week for the other one, and that's a big course... Fingers crossed for me please! I really dont want to have to go home again, when this is where I belong.

The days are passing by slowly, but I like it. Most of the time I manage to shut out the worries and just focus on being here now, but of course there are times when I can't do that. We havent done much these last days, some shopping, unpacking, being lazy... lots of the being lazy to be honest. Yesterday we were on a mission to find me a Wales NT football shirt since I left my beloved one at home, because tomorrow we are driving down to Cardiff to see Wales vs. Belgium in the World Cup qualifiers! Its a long drive but we have awesome seats, just by the half-way line. Should be amazing, lots of good players on the field.

Meanwhile, since I came here I've been noticing some cultural differences (my boyfriend says I can't say its cultural differences, but this is not his blog...), here are some of them:

  1. Electrical showers. They scare the living daylight out of me to be perfectly honest. At home, the showerhead is connected to a shower valve, which is in turn connected to the hot and cold water piping. Not here, no no, here you get a little box on the wall that you TURN ON USING A FLICK SWITCH. I'm not kidding. Where the water comes from? No idea, but I have a scary feeling it gets heated up inside that box and that I one day will be electrocuted when I shower. The electrical chair anyone? Wet loofa? No?
  2. Carpeting. Its everywhere. I can see the idea here, its soft and nice and no cold feet in the morning! But... how exactly do you clean it? Answer is, you dont really. You hoover it, you can spray chemicals on it, but when the day comes when its too filthy to salvage, you rip it out and put in a new one... Even my bathroom (Don't get me wrong, I got an awesome bathroom) has a carpet. Cute baby blue one. But still.
  3. All that tea. All. The. Time. I like tea though.
  4. Don't even get me started on driving on the wrong side of the road, I get nauseous just thinking about it. Roundabouts...
A thing I LOVE with England though, is the food. Yep. As most Swedes I came here with that superior view of "all you Brits eat is shepherds pie and sausages", and maybe they do, but I mean the GROCERY STORES. Marks & Spencer in particular, which is apparently (?) viewed as quite expensive here. To me its not, my grocery store in Sweden was waaaay more expensive. They have everything. You can get fresh fruits and berries all year round, packaged in plastic boxes, not piled up in some nasty basket like they do at home. And the TOAST. I love toast, like, worship it, and they have the best toast I've ever had. Soft, white, and when you toast it it turns crispy and golden... Mmm with lost of melting butter so it turns a bit soft... I love it. Tesco has huge jars of baked beans. 1 kilo ones. Pure awesomeness. I don't know when I'll get tired of full English breakfast but I'm sure its not far away at this rate..

Anyway, I'm getting to the pictures eventually, I'm off to watch a movie in bed, ciao!


Monday, September 3, 2012

Day 7, Liverpool

Another day coming to an end...

Started the day with a nice sleep in, since David did NOT wake up at 9 for once, leaving me tossing and turning for five minutes before I drag myself out of bed as well. Today I came stumbling down at 10.45, to a very empty house with everyone at work. After a very filling breakfast (spaghetti hoops, boiled eggs and toast) we left for Liverpool One and Odeon Cinema where I finally got to see Brave. Dear Lord I love that movie already. We were both really impressed with the animation of it, the details were extraordinary, with Meridas hair being especially impressive.

I also got to try an English speciality (?), sweet popcorn! I have been rather sceptical about it, since I am used to salty popcorn like most swedes, but I liked it! It tasted a bit like the cereal that I believe is called Sugar Puffs here but goes under Kalaspuffar in Sweden. I might have to buy a box of that now... The movie also made David speak in a Scottish accent for almost all afternoon as well, which was quite funny!

After the cinema I spent a few hours dragging David around some shops, resulting in a new hair dryer (FINALLY, I've had to let it self dry for a week...) a straightener, a gorgeous pair of glittery trainers from Aldo, a nice tweed blazer and some body lotion. After this, I think I'll have to put the spending on hold for a while...

I still havent unpacked, so I'm living in quite a mess at the moment (Anyone surprised? Anyone?) but the plan is to make an effort and unpack my things tomorrow. I might even get my arse in gear and upload some pictures then...

I saw that most of my friends start Uni today, but here its another month left until Uni starts, so I have nothing planned at all right now. We were supposed to go to Italy for ten day this weekend, but with this uncertain situation with the student grant it didnt feel doable, which is quite sad. Hopefully it will all be sorted soon so we can go on some kind of holiday. We do have a trip to Wales planned, which is much less of a hassle (you drive there in a few hours and we have an apartment to use) but maybe not quite the same as Tuscany...

Anyway, I'm off again to polish off some cookies, but I'll be back! (In the voice of Arnold)

Xxx M

Sunday, September 2, 2012

First week, London, Liverpool

So, its been a while since I used this to be fair, but seeing as I (hopefully) will be away for a long time, I thought this could be the way to share my adventures with the ones I left behind in Sweden and maybe the odd curious person, and well, my mum. (Hi mum.)

Short catching up, I was accepted to the Erasmus exchange program in March, or April, or whatever, and started planning my year abroad at the University of Leicester doing law. To be honest, it feels a bit like as if an English person would come to some teeny tiny city (village...) in Sweden to study, but I've HEARD its a good uni so, yeah...

It's not been very easy, and its still not to be fair. I'm still waiting on CSN (student grant people...) to make a decision on my grant and student loan since I failed an exam. I've taken two more exams and sent in a VERY weepy letter explaining why I failed the exam, so hopefully it all goes to plan, or this exchange year will come to a very abrupt and unwanted end in just a few weeks. Let us all pray that doesn't happen...

So. I arrived in London on the 28th August, with two big suitcases that I had to half empty the night before because they were 18 kilos too heavy, not sure what I even had in them since I just pulled out random stuff to make them fit the weight limit. I was greeted by my boyfriend David, bless his cotton socks, who got to carry the less girly suitcase. We had three great days in London before we left for Liverpool, including a gorgeous meal at Clos Maggiore (most romantic restaurant in London, have that!) where I had duck breast for the first time ever, ruined on duck breast now, it could never be as good as that one I had. We had macarons at Ladurée, we strolled through Covent Garden, and we packed up all the things in the apartment to move up to Liverpool.

While he was at work I also managed some shopping rounds both on my own and with my friends Gina and Ylva. The shopping trip on my own resulted in a huge box from Hamley's containing Star Wars lego. Bitch to carry that one back I can tell you... It wasn't for me, but for David's birthday. He was happy as an 8 year old. Gina and I stocked up on nailpolishes, as we usually do when we meet... On that note, everything make up wise is SO much cheaper here. Boots even beats the tax free shops with ease. I might have to check what the English airports charges because here you can get Chanel nailpolishes for £18, when they are 245 SEK at home (about £25, give or take a pound or so...) Same goes for mostly anything, its awesome to say the least.

On Friday night, we arrived in Liverpool, where we will stay until Uni starts (again, pray I get to go to Uni!) in October. Plan is to find me a place to stay in Leicester as soon as I get that money, so its a bit stressful not really knowing what is coming for me. It has also meant I've had to miss some things, like Davids birthday, and Phantom of the Opera, the musical, that we had bought tickets for, all because I had to cancel my flight last minute and write those exams. Hopefully I will get a new chance at the musical at some point.

Saturday was spent at home (Home huh, it already feels like it actually...) baking and just relaxing. I was probably meant to unpack but still hasn't really come to that. I've started though! We also built that Star Wars spaceship (Millenium Falcon!) which took some hours to finish...

And then came Sunday, which I've been waiting for a long time. We went to Anfield to watch the game against Arsenal, that I managed to get tickets to a few weeks ago. They lost 2-0, which wasn't all that fun, but the atmosphere and just the feeling of being there, at our stadium, was like nothing else. Hopefully it was the first of many home games for me to go to.

I will probably upload some pictures from the game, and of my room here at some point, right now its time for dinner and then bedtime, tomorrow we are going into town to buy me some essentials. Like a hairdryer...

Xxx M