London Living

Experiencing Virtual Reality in London 

The only experience I ever had with virtual reality was watching videos related to it when they circulate on Facebook. I didn't think I was going to try it myself. The other week, a Virtual Reality exhibition/experience was suggested to me. I said yes obviously. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I am just glad I went. All the online tickets were sold out. London events get sold out really quickly!! The website said there might be tickets available at the door. So, we went to the event yesterday, which took place in the very artsy space, House of Peroni. Luckily, we got some tickets!!

There were three artists involved: "Italian artists FABIO GIAMPIETRO - 2016 winner of the prestigious Lumen Prize for digital art - and PEETA, along with British counterpart CARNE GRIFFITHS, will take you on a journey of craftsmanship in their own unique way."  

Fabio was in charge of the night when we went. He showed us how to play with the VR set and we started drawing right away! It was really cool how fast we all got into figuring out the drawing. I couldn't think of anything original so I only wrote my name and added a snow effect. It was still fun. The VR just shows how many amazing possibilities the future holds! 

We also got a drink and a free print of the artist's VR work which was really awesome! I think it was a bargain for the 20GBP/each. 

How to find cool events and things to do in London

London Events

I love being in London. It's an amazing city with so many things to do. You can even plan every night of the week to be out doing something entertaining. I keep getting asked how I find all the cool events I go to. I also get responses to my Snapchat story that say "oh wish I knew" "how did you even find that?" The answer is simple, I look for interesting things to do with my time because interesting events lead to interesting people. Sometimes I go alone and sometimes I take my friends. Either way, I make sure I go there and enjoy myself! Here are my go-to places to find events

Events at museums and galleries

The start of the month, I take a look at my favourite museums, art centres and venue just to check what's on. Some events are free, but others are paid. Usually they are reasonably price and under £20. The places I check are:

Barbican Centre, British Museum, National Gallery, Vitoria and Albert Museum, Leighton House Museum, Prince's School of Traditional Arts, Somerset House, Saatchi Gallery, Fashion and Textile Museum and The Design Museum.   

Live Music in London
Barbican Exhibition in London

Events at cool London venues

There are so many trendy venues around the city that host events. The ones I check are The Book Club in Shoreditch, The Forge in Camden and Soho Theatre

Events via Meetup groups

I mentioned in a pervious post "Ten Ways to Make International Friends". It's not only good for meeting new people and making friends, but there are so many groups that are based in London that do all sort of events from drawing at galleries  to socialising at new London spots and etc. 

Events from event websites

There is always the dependable Timeout London. I also like Le Cool London and the Nudge. I am sure there are other cool ones, but these usually fill up my schedule and notify me with the major London events.   

Street art in London
The book club in London

I hope you find these locations and links useful. By the way, you should also ask your friends to share cool events that they might have heard of from work or other friends. This city has lots to offer and you will surly find something you enjoy. You can mix it up and go to events that you aren't sure about. It is fun to experiment! 

Over to you: How do you find cool events in London? Do you know any cool venues and websites that I didn't mention? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. 


How to protect yourself from horrific flatmates in London?

horrific flatmates in London

After seeing endless ads from Airbnb about renting the extra space to other travellers, I convinced my landlord to clean up the extra bedroom. By "convinced" I actually mean I took matters into my own hands and was on endless calls asking him if he needed all the old things in there that no longer worked. Thankfully, the landlord is somewhat of a friend so it was not painful to convince him. Once the room was emptied (as best as I could), I bought few extra things like a hanging rack, hangers, sheets, towels and the usual room essentials. After I listed it on Airbnb, a "friend" saw the listing and contacted me and asked if she could stay. She only wanted to stay a couple of weeks at first and I wanted to help her out so I agreed. I thought at least I "knew" her and she is probably better than random strangers. Little did I know. It turned out to be one of the most horrific experiences ever. Of course it was all flowers and rainbows in the trial period then things got wrong really fast. I actually still wonder what went wrong, but I am treating it as a learning experiences and sharing five ways to protect yourself from similar experiences.    

Tip: Let the payments and bookings be via Airbnb at least that way you get the payments and get to leave a review for the person. I removed my listing and privately lend it to her. BAD IDEA!

First: Is it really worth it? 

I was out of the country/city for about 60% of the time when I had a flatmate so I though it is worth getting some money especially that I am not even there. I did not consider how I will feel when I am back though. I realised the hard way that sanity is more valuable than money especially when the flatmate is loud, inconsiderate and uses your resources when you are not there. The rent I charged was not even enough to tolerate the inconvenience she caused. In the trail period it was 90GBP/week and then 120GBP/week. Keep in mind it was a flat in London (end of zone three) with a station that's 5mins walk that takes 20mins to get to London Bridge (Central London). I did not want a profit, all I wanted was to cover the necessities. You might need to consider the emotional sacrifice and the price of the area when you are setting the rent price. 

Second: Be firm and be cautious especially if the new flatmate is a friend  

The flatmate who moved in with me was kind of a "friend". I "knew" her from mutual art classes we took and we had few friends in common, so I thought that was enough. The fact that I knew her made me go easy on rules and payments because that's what friends are for; to be supportive to each other. On the contrary, you really should be firm from the start because some people will take advantage of you. 

Third: Get a GOOD deposit

I was so naive and I did not take a deposit. I know rookie move, but I really wanted to help her out because she constantly said she had no money and her payments were delayed and I thought I did not need it. Obviously I was mistaken, she broke my chair, the toilet roll holder, broke a bowl, used my drinking cups to paint and almost broke my expensive juicer too. I was so shocked and so Arab to ask for any money. A deposit would have solved that issue and I could have deducted the cost of the broken items from there.    

Fourth: Have a written and signed agreement from a lawyer

Another mistake! I thought it was only a short term thing and there was no need to hassle myself with a lawyer and a contract, but seriously you need one with set dates. After the initial agreement with the flatmate to the end of June, she extended the dates to end of July and later on to end of August. When I had a problem with her dates and told her that I was expecting her to leave end of July because the landlord wanted to bring another person in August, she snapped. I really don't like dealing with aggressive, confrontational people. I really wished I had a contract then.   

Fifth: Write all the household rules and agree on them before the move

When this flatmate first moved in she told me this and let me quote: "I am so tidy and neat, I think I have OCD." When someone makes such statements you kind of believe them. I know I am not the tidiest person. I have piles of papers and clothes in my room, but at least I am hygienic and clean especially in the kitchen and the bathroom. So, I expected her to be the same and even better since she claimed she is OCD clean. Sadly, that was not the case, I came from a trip and I saw plates of half eaten food left in the living room, dirty W/C, blocked drains from her hair and a total mess. I was only gone for a week. 

Remember Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory and his roommate agreement detailing every little thing from who sits on the couch to everything else?

Yes you should do something similar (not as insane) BEFORE the move. I was really upset when I saw the disgusting mess (the type that get rats into your house) and I wrote a paper for her with Dos and Don'ts. Such as please don't eat my food especially the food I brought with me from abroad that I can't replace. I also included the usual common sense things like please don't leave your clothes in the living room, please put your leftovers in the fridge, throw your rotten food in the trash an take the trash out when I am not in town since it's yours. She was so offended she did not even speak to me. 

The end of the story:

I didn't even have to speak to her face to face because she decided to leave the flat without notifying me or paying the rent. To top it off she purposefully stole my really nice cloth grocery bags and pay-as-you-go/top-up gas card and electricity key just to make my life difficult. This should give you an indication of the type of person she is. Without them, I could not get gas or electricity in the flat. I found out all of that after coming from an international trip. I was already exhausted after ten hours of travel and all I wanted was to sleep instead I spent a stressful cold dark night. I kept trying to contact her but she did not respond and then blocked me. I asked a mutual friend to intervene. I did not want the money just the card and key. The flatmate lied about having them and was out of touch.

It was one of the worst experiences of my life. It still sounds bizarre to me. Even my friends were in disbelief when I told them. I know why I was upset, but every time I was annoyed I stayed in my room either tired or working. I was never rude or out of order with her. I am sure she had her reasons but stealing and behaving like that was immature and silly. I am just glad it was over and really sad it ended this way. 

Hope you guys don't have similar experiences just make sure you follow the advice above and you will be alright. Some people ended up with really good relationships with their flatmates. It's just a matter of clarity and luck.  

More London Posts: 

Photos of Greenwich, South London

Last year, I blogged about one of my favourite spots in London, Greenwich in the Beauty of the Surroundings: Greenwich post. By the start of April last year, most flowers bloomed and brightened the city. This year, the Spring start has been a little slower. but, it is coming along. My first thing I did when the weather warmed up a little was go again to greenwich to walk around the city. I went around the beautiful University of Greenwich. It is located in a world heritage site. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren at the end of the 17th century. From the university I went to the banks of the River Thames, where central London was sparkling beautifully on the other side. At the end of the walk, I passed by the Cutty Sark Clipper Ship from the outside. There are lots of restaurants around there and the greenwich market, which I will do a special post on in the future. Enjoy these few snaps I took there! :)