RAINY SATURDAY AT CAMDEN MARKET // LIVING IN LONDON V.2

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I have not had a lot of weekends off since moving to London last November. A few weeks ago, I threw caution to the wind and took a Saturday for myself. It was very cold and very rainy (and very London) and we decided to be brave London dwellers to spend some time at Camden market.

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I don't need a lot of convincing to visit a market. It is one of my favorite parts of travel. We started with something warm from Eden Ethiopian coffee - I had the spicy coffee and my sissy had the chai tea - both were phenomena. Then we moved on the cheese wheel in hopes of trying the hand-rolled pasta - the line was too long. Instead, we order some halloumi fries topped with mint and pomegranate - it was delicious.

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We barely got through our order of halloumi fries when my eyes caught the menu for the Venezuelan spot. The guys cooking up Latin America favorites were fun to watch as they blasted music while serving up tasty Venezuelan meals - we ordered some plantain and cornbread - so good ! 

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At this point. we were stuffed and decided to head over to the shops around the markets - antiques; jewelry; leather shops where they made a belt on the spot and then on to the vintage shop clothes shop. After an hour trying to figure out if the Burberry overcoat that caught my eye at the vintage shop was the real thing, I was ready for more food. I return to the hand roll pasta shop and the lines were still wrapped around and I was not having it. I went for the posh spice mac n cheese from The mac factory - creamy mac and cheese topped with srirarcha sauce; chorizo and fried shallots - the best ! We wrapped up the day out with jelly-filled donuts and cronut. It was the perfect (rainy) day in London.

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LOOKING BACK ON 2017 AND SOME OF MY FAVORITE MOMENTS

It is hard to believe we are already five days into 2018.

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2017 was the year of stepping out of my comfort zone and moving the London was the biggest step I have taken in my adult life to date. The move has come with its share of challenges and three months in - there are still days of doubt about the right decision to move here. Add to that the insecurity of starting something new and you have the perfect recipe for more panic attacks than I have ever had combined. Although those moments were tiresome; I was reminded of my need for God. The scripture in the bible that says "give us this day, our daily bread" never meant more to me than in the last two months of 2017 because I had to daily seek God for strength; wisdom; and grace to get through the day. There were days I struggled to see any good in the year. However, a perfectly timed trip to the motherland forced me to take a break and get some perspective that confirmed without a doubt 2017, in spite of the challenges, was an incredible year.

Portland, Oregon

The year kicked off with a chance work opportunity in Portland and Sao Paulo. Both cities have been the bucket list for ages. Due to the work commitments, I did not have any time to explore. However, I needed to eat (three times a day) and food became the medium by which I explored both cities. The food in Portland and Sao Paulo was incredible and getting to got to work alongside some incredible folks was cherry on top, especially in Brazil. With that experience, I cannot wait to visit Sao Paulo on my own time and to explore the rich culture and history of the city.

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Sao Paulo

In May, I celebrated a birthday. It was not a milestone birthday, but this was very special for me. I had a special birthday photo shoot with the talented mozdeb behind the lens; celebrated the union of dear friends and at the end of the month, my friend "G" planned a birthday celebration dinner for me. Dinner and Karaoke with four friends - sounds simple, but it is one of my most cherished birthdays (to date) and memories of 2017.

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June was the month of travel - I spent the entire month out of town on work and personal trips, including seven days in Hawaii. Most of the time was spent on work but I scheduled two personal days to explore Honolulu. I have never experienced anything quite like Hawaii and I find myself constantly apologizing for ever uttering the words - "why will I fly eight hours to go to Hawaii; when I could easily be on another continent in the same amount of time?". I will hop on a flight to Hawaii on a moments notice. Hoping to visit again soon to explore other Islands.

Honolulu
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I finally made it to Disney in September. It only took thirty (plus) years and I was not disappointed. It really is the most wonderful and magical place in the world. The avatar ride at the Animal Kingdom was incredible and the fireworks display was unbelievable. I will return just for the fireworks show.

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In October, I packed up my eleven years of living in Dallas to relocate to London. I still have mixed feelings about the move and there is not a week I don't question if I made the right decision. I am learning to navigate it one day at a time. In spite of the challenges and doubt, every time I walk to the station to head home. It is with a grateful heart that I get to do life in this city. 

The best part of the year also happened in October. The family added one more by way of marriage. I am thankful every day for my sister who has been a blessing in every way. With everything that has not gone right with the move to London, I am so glad to have her as a support system.

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I was blessed to wind down 2017 in the Company of some of my favorite people in the city that holds a piece of my heart. Nothing compares to ushering in a new year in Lagos (yet). I reconnected with family; explored new parts of the city. Lagos is home; home is where the heart is and being there made my heart whole. 

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Excited for what 2018 has in store. I have hopes and aspirations for the year and I spent the better part of this week crafting my goals for the year.   The rest of this month will be spent strategizing on how to get those goals to reality. Hoping all of the hard work behind the scenes is in the content on this space in 2018.

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A NEW CHAPTER BEGINS FOR PORTLAND GRACE...

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Just in case you did not pick up on it from my social media posts and multiple 'see you later" events last week - let me let you in on the secret - Portland | Grace (aka me and my laptop) is off on the adventure of a lifetime (Nah !). We are off to work overseas, but we will attempt to squeeze in as much adventure as we can while in London. 

I have started and stopped this post several times. Each time I sit to write this, I am reminded of one more friend; aunt; cousin I am yet to inform or my mind wonders to the exhausting to-do list surrounding a move (FYI: my brain and body is so tired - it took about five minutes to accurately remember how to spell "exhausting"). The first time I sat to write this post - the weight of what we were about to undertake hit me like a ton of bricks and I had crippling panic attacks. I set the computer aside and buried myself in other things (read:work work work ).

Second attempt - 5:02 a.m. on a Saturday.  Not sure why I am awake this time of day. Lord knows I need all the rest I can get. I am too exhausted to check off anything on the to-do list and too wired to go back to sleep (another symptom of the panic attack - Jesus take the wheel). It has been two months since a post graced this space and now seems like the best time to get you caught up on what we (the laptop and I) have been up to lately. Let's start in May.

May was wedding overload; Closed out May with a birthday celebration planned by my friend "G". June was a whirl wind of travel. Spent some time on the East Coast. That was when this whole moving thing was birthed (getting to that soon). Then it was off to Hawaii  it was work related, but thankfully I was able to tack on some personal days to explore and lay on the beach. Yes ! travel guides and pictures will be arriving soon. Mid-July to date has been a blur of interviews; paperwork; work; work; work and packing.

The third attempt at this post picks up almost a month since attempt two.  I am sat in my temporary apartment in Camden and after a morning spent wrapping up some work matters for Dallas and trading emails with my new team; now seems like the perfect time to wind down this post. Since attempt number two  - I have managed to stuff the last sixteen years of my life stateside into ten duffel bags and two carry on. My brother got married (it was an amazing day - see pictures here); I have had five panic attacks, but I am finally embracing the reality that there is no going back now. This is the choice we made and now we got to live it out. 

The hardest part of the decision to move - leaving the community we formed stateside. Walking away from friends that had become family; random coffee chats about life and faith ; building community (and serving community). Random dinner plans ending at Japanese grocery stores and karaoke. This was a tough decision and whenever we cross your mind - call us (nah we don't do call so, text us) and say a prayer - we are leaving comfort and familiar for a lot of unknown. There are some parts we are excited about, but lots that is terrifying. For this blog, it will continue and hopefully be better than ever. The print shop will wind down for a few months while I assess how to run it from across the pond. Definitely follow me on instagram for any the highs and lows.

Cheers to new beginnings....