England

Whenever I try and impersonate an accent, whether it be Australian, South African, Irish, whatever…I always end up sounding English. Not like a fake Madonna English accent, but that’s just my go-to for some reason.

So I got a bit of a linguistic shock when  I arrived on English soil for the first time and I couldn’t decrypt the Davinci Code that was the London accent . I was 18 years old, freshly graduated from high school, and on my way to a solo European adventure. I was about to join a 21 day tour through 11 countries, and was doing it all on my lonesome. Queue me being bitten by the travel bug.

I had a few days in London before I stopped being a loner and joined the rest of my (mostly Aussie) group on my Contiki Tour, so I went exploring, naturally. I did one of those stereotypical double decker ‘hop-on-hop-off’ bus tours, ended up getting lost, and had to try and maneuver the tube back to my hotel in Russell Square. The true test of my accent comprehension was when I went to purchase a ticket for the tube. The lady behind the glass, speaking through those mini holes, asked for some amount of money. Not only could I not make out a damn word she was saying, I also had zero clue of what the currency was. My solution? Pour out my entire wallet and tell her to take whatever she needed. I’m a problem solver.

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My photography skills weren’t as in tune in 2008 as they are now…

I’ve been to England a few other times since my maiden journey to Europe, and now not only do I understand the accent better, I actually have incorporated a lot of their lingo into my own vocabulary (result of living in a few ex-British colonies). I still don’t sound like the English Madonna though;  I liken myself to be more of a Canadian-Kiwi Sinead O’Connor.

My second trip to London saw me visiting my Scottish bestie, Laura, who I lived with in Queenstown, New Zealand. Our reunion was two years in the making, and what a glorious reunion it was. We spent a weekend in London together, visiting the Christmas markets, grazing on wine, chatting until all hours, and dancing to ‘Take That’ at Infernos in Clapham.

 

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Laura Mac, Me & Carnaby Street

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Queenstown, 2011.

After a weekend of relentless boozing, I figured I should maybe try and see some sort of landmark before I left. You know, for Instagram purposes. So on my way to the airport I caught up with another old friend, Dave, whom I had met on my Africa trip in 2009. That too was a very long overdue rendezvous, and after choosing Buckingham Palace as our meeting place so I could snap my tourist shot, we then proceeded to the pub.

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A few wines later, and more trips down memory lane, I had another tearful goodbye and made the painful and expensive train journey to Luton airport.

Unsurprisingly, three of my four visits to England have involved London. But the one time I didn’t visit the capital was when I went to Creamfields music festival just outside Liverpool.

Ok, so I am a relative newbie to the dance music scene. Living in a small-ish town in Canada the only ‘clubs’ we had were country bars and restaurants that served discounted cocktails on certain nights. So after a move to Europe, and a birthday in Ibiza, I was fully committed to the house and techno music scene. I fucking love it.

As I had moved to Dublin on my own I struggled to meet girlfriends. It’s really tough making friends as an adult, believe it or not, and this is something that can make moving to a new city/country quite daunting. But I’m a fairly shy person (I’m really not…I’m probably the exact opposite), so making friends wasn’t such a hard task. I did struggle to convince my mates to go to Creamfields with me though, which sets the stage for a super random but amazing story.

After Ibiza all I wanted to do was rave. European house and techno music is like none other, and at times I am sad I discovered it so late in my life. But, I am so glad I did. I was constantly on the hunt for more festivals to go to, and started looking into Mysteryland in the Netherlands. Mysteryland is the original EDM festival, and is where the ‘Yesterday is history, today’s a gift, tomorrow a mystery’, which most people associate with Tomorrowland, comes from. I couldn’t find anyone to go with, but still wanted to go.

I had joined this group on Facebook that was essentially for girls in Dublin who hang out, go to events together, etc. It was a meeting place for chicks whose friends were married off, preggers, or too lame to do anything anymore and were looking for friends to fill those voids. Being the random person I am, I posted in the group asking if anyone would be interested in going to Mysteryland, and included the link to the 2013 aftermovie.

One American ex-pat, Ciara, messaged me saying she’d love to go. We started chatting, and she said she was meant to go to Creamfields with her cousin but that wasn’t set in stone. Not ever hearing of Creamfields, I Googled it and was like ‘Fuck it, should we go to Creamfields then??’

So to Creamfields we went.

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The first time I actually met Ciara in person was at the airport when we were at the gate about to board our flight to Liverpool. It was like the craziest blind date of all time. My friend Paddy came along with us, so it wasn’t all first encounters, but what a weekend it was. Ciara and I are friends to this day and even went to Ibiza and Edinburgh together last year. She’s a badass chick, and I adore the heck out of her. I knew that anyone who was as random as me, to go on a holiday with someone they’d never met before, would be a solid human who I would click with. Kindred spirits.

Carrying on with the rave theme, my next trip to London was for a Robyn Schulz gig. I had just starting dating my now boyfriend Andy, and what better way to woo a man than ask him to go to a rave with you in England? We jetted off to London for a weekend, and although we did spent a very late night in the Coronet Theatre for the gig, we also went to see the Lion King Musical, which I had been itching to see for 10+ years.

We splurged on the premium seats, because why the hell not. The only problem was the cast could likely clearly make out my tears of joy throughout the performance. What.A.Show. Seriously. It was like reliving so many amazing memories for me – from childhood to my stint in Africa. When you build something up in your head for so long it tends to disappoint, it’s like that saying ‘Never meet your heroes’.  But I wasn’t disappointed, and that was the cherry on top of a deadly weekend.

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I could never live in London. It’s far too big and pushy for me. I’m not a fan of being a literal sardine on the tubes, and I’m far too Canadian and laidback to get involved in the rat race mentality. I love visiting London though, and would like to broaden my England horizons to other cities. Watch this space.

The Tips (most apply to London):

  1. If you are not from the UK, start saving your pennies for a trip. The pound slaughters most other currencies, and it stings the bank account. Especially in London.
  2. Do not purchase tickets for any of the London musicals online before you go. You will get ripped off, and kick yourself when you get to London and realise you can get the same tickets and seats for a 1/3rd of the price at the stalls in Piccadilly Circus.
  3. Book your accommodation well in advance if you know you are going. We lucked out with an Airbnb, and I also have friends who have let me crash at theirs, but otherwise you will get stung by that GBP again.
  4. An English Full Breakfast/Fry Up is not entirely like the North American breakfasts’. English Breakfast’s will have your typical eggs, bacon, sausages, but will also include a fried tomato, baked beans, mushroom, fried bread and black pudding (pork fat + blood in a hockey puck shape).

 

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