Can you live the London life on a budget? Why not…

EveryIMG_5687 time I travel home from uni, I have to venture up to London, before I then head back down to the south. It may just be a part of my route home, but one day (in the very near future, pretty please), I want it to actually be my home. I love it. I’m obsessed with wanting to live that London life; busy, hectic, eventful. I know it doesn’t sound all that relaxing, but your 20s aren’t a time for slowing down, they’re when you’re just getting started. I know London is exactly where I want to be after I graduate. Fairwell uni bubble, the capital is calling!

My love of London means I’ve spent a fair amount of time roaming the streets, but when you’re a student, and money is not your best friend, London starts alarm bells ringing. Fear not, my fretful friends, I’ve got a few tips up my savvy student sleeves.

Note: This isn’t the way to live every day, let’s not be frivolous now, but for those odd days off, here’s how to reign in the spending.

Musicals mean money.

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Theatre Old Drury Lane

From previous posts, you may be aware that I do love a good musical, and that they don’t come cheap. Before, I’ve suggested turning up at Leicester Square and grabbing whatever cut price tickets you can get. If you want to get more for your money, then here’s another suggestion. The last few times I have been to the theatre, I have purchased mid-range or low-range tickets, right near the back, where my fear of heights suddenly manifests itself, only to be upgraded to better, higher priced seats. I’m not saying this is a dead cert, but it is always worth inquiring on the day what the situation is. To make it even more likely, pick a mid-week matinee performance which is always less popular, because let’s face it, everyone else is busy working away while we’re off gallivanting to the theatre like cultured students. Just think: the less people who go, the more likely you’re all going to be shuffled up into the swanky seats. Winning.

Photo by Byron Hamburgers

I sat there! Photo by Byron Hamburgers

Eat on the cheap.

Even if you’re not off to see a show or a musical, go and pretend you are. The restaurants around the theatre district, close to Covent Garden, are surprisingly cheap. But isn’t Covent Garden a tourist money trap, I hear you say? Not necessarily. Pre-show menus are everywhere! Two courses for £9.95, drink included. Yes please. I know, I was surprised too. From lunchtime to around six, every restaurant around is touting for your business. There’s so many to choose from, they have to lure you in somehow, and if you’re as conscious of money as every other student, this is the way to do it. And when it’s a set menu, there’ll always be the crowd pleasers on there, so you’re sure to find something you like.

Hang around at Happy Hour.

On my last trip to London, I was celebrating a close friends’ 21st, so I wanted to do something extra fancy. Following our extremely cultured theatre trip (to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory … (at the Theatre Old Drury Lane)), and a cheap but scrumptious after show meal, the next step was obvious: cocktails. And if you get your timing right, finish dinner just as Happy Hour begins. Two doors down from Byron Hamburgers (go there!), is Be at One, a small bar where Happy Hour lasts three hours.

Photo by thecocktailcard.co.uk

Photo by thecocktailcard.co.uk

It’s trendy (I’m not sure that word is cool anymore), and it’s got a great atmosphere; maybe because everyone has finished work for the day, or they’ve just had one too many cocktails. Ah, that London life. After work cocktails in Covent Garden? See you there one day. The bar staff were extremely welcoming and incredibly skilled at what they do. I don’t know whether measurements are stronger in London, but wow, you get a lot for your money. Cheap, lethal pre drinks before heading back for a night out at uni sorted. You’re welcome.

So, there you have it. It’s very simple, but it’s all about timing: when to eat, when to drink, when to book tickets. We also managed to minimise travel costs and time wasted on the tube by staying in one neat contain area. The theatre, restaurant and bar were all within metres of one another. Maybe you don’t get to see as much, but you get to make the most of your time and try out a few new places you maybe wouldn’t have thought of going before.

And, remember, when in doubt; wave your student card around. You’d be surprised how many places accept student discount.

Chris Ramsey pops our stand-up comedy cherries

He’s the guy who got kicked off and banned from Soccer AM for talking about something a little bit naughty. He’s “The most dangerous man on Saturday morning TV”.

If only I was photogenic...

My friend Cheyenne, Mr Chris Ramsey and a very un-photogenic me.

But when Chris Ramsey bounces onto the Gulbenkian’s intimate stage, grinning from ear to ear, he looks like the least dangerous man I’ve ever seen.

He’s a Geordie joker, who, as he puts it, just wants to ‘pop our stand-up comedy cherries’. Bless him.

Without giving too much away, if you want to see some controversial, borderline offensive comedy, that’s not what you’re going to get. He’s no ‘opinion ninja’; his stand up is about real life everyday experiences. He wants you to remember he’s just like you… just a little bit famous.

There’s something so calming about that cheeky chappie Geordie accent and someone who’s so at ease with his ‘gorgeous, gorgeous audience’ (I don’t know who he was looking at) .You can just chuckle away, sure that he’s not going to fluff it up. And even though he did, he made it into the funniest joke of the night.

Other highlights included learning a little bit more about that Soccer AM incident, (YouTube it. Go on, I dare you), a few tips in the best ways to fist bump someone (I recommend googling ‘fist bump jellyfish’ right away) and a radical breakfast invention that went slightly wrong.

Yes, we are indeed pink.

Meet my good friend Carl (and yes, we are indeed pink)

Though Canterbury didn’t offer much in the way of audience participation, Ramsey somehow turned silence into raucous laughter again and again. He handled a heckler with ease (no it wasn’t me) and wrestled a man who got up to leave at the punch line. He’s not afraid to get involved and mix things up a little.

And let’s not forget his support act, Mr Carl Hutchinson. Oh Carl, what a joy to watch a comedian tell cheese jokes. I’ve been waiting a long time for that to happen. He’s definitely one to look out for in the future.

After the gig, Chris and Carl kindly came and chatted to us and although I was a little busy fan girling all the way to the ticket signing table, I did manage to ask a few questions. InQuire exclusive alert: Chris Ramsey thinks Canterbury is “a lovely city with terrible phone signal”. Tell us something we don’t know.

They’re genuinely lovely guys who seemed so humbled that anyone would want to see them perform. And why wouldn’t we? They’re blooming hilarious!

Look, Read, Watch and Follow

photo by cintascotchLOOK … @cintascotch on Instagram

Ever looked at your everyday household objects and wondered if they could be made into some more creative? Have you ever looked at a pair of scissors and seen a ballet dancers legs? No, didn’t think so. But now, thank god, you don’t have to imagine it ever again. ‘Cintascotch’ has done it for you only ten times better. Run by Javier Pérez, this Instagram account is wacky and pretty damn awesome. Pérez says that the most common daily objects appear most attractive to him. “Everything inspires me”, he says.

You might see a bunch or juicy grapes but Pérez sees a handful of balloons, or that paperclip holding your essay together, that’s a trumpet in the eyes of Pérez the household object artist. Amazing.

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READ … Freshers’ Fun and Frolics

This is a sweet little blog I stumbled across a while ago whilst I was setting up mine. It tracks the life of a university student in her first year. Maybe it’s not the craziest, most hilarious blog you’ll ever read, but it’s honest and I found myself agreeing with everything the author says. It’s some light, easy to read, procrastination with a cheery style and a few interesting facts thrown in.

Look out for her tips on mastering student life from budgeting and saving money, to getting over homesickness and settling in.

Or, you know, there’s this little awesome blog called hashtagstudentproblems. I hear it’s pretty great… and it’s author *cough* me *cough* is pretty awesome too. Day to day, typical student problems that I’m pretty sure we can all relate to. Have a read and see what you think. Or not. Whatever.

sourcefed-subscribers-600x369WATCH … SourceFed on YouTube

It has to be SourceFed. It was created by Philip DeFranco, so you just know it’s going to be good. If you haven’t seen it, feel ashamed, feel very very ashamed. It’s hilarious, it’s quick witted and it’s even educational. It’s 20 minutes day split into 5 videos about the best, weirdest or most interesting news stories of the day. But the presenters… oh the presenters, they are a-ma-zing!

The original trio of Joe Bereta, Lee Newton and Elliot Morgan was unstoppable and now there’s a whole host of new shows and presenters to keep it fresh and new – Steve Zaragoza is particularly entertaining. They all have their own little quirks and they’re all fabulous. Watch out for Lee Newton’s hysterical obsession with dinosaurs and everyone’s ability to talk super-fast so they can cram everything into their 20 minute daily quota. And once you’ve become addicted to their fast paced videos, look out for their individual YouTube channels. Definitely worth a watch.

5dfcf1d3f8bdfd0f1dc7a1c80006b13a_400x400FOLLOW … Student Problems @ProblemsAtUni 

The one twitter account that perfectly sums up your uni life in just 140 characters. It makes you feel that little bit better about yourself and a little less guilty about all that procrastination you’ve done. It’s perhaps a bit worrying how accurate it is; maybe they’re stealing my tweets…

Created by just another typical student, 19 year old Dom McGregor studies at the University of Manchester and has generated over 124,000 followers since he set it up. If only my procrastination was as productive as that.

It certainly won’t do anything to convince your parents that uni is actually pretty hard. Instead it’ll only confirm their fears that you sleep all day and binge watch Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad instead of ‘working’. But hey, it’s humourous and light hearted.

Plus, with all those exams and deadlines, it’s reassuring to remind myself that I’m not the only student panic revising and living in a little corner of the library. Definitely wish I was sleeping all day and binge watching programs now!

 

The Uni Summer Ball Take Two

photo (2)Summer ball 2014. The one night of the year when students dust off their suits, probably the same one from prom night, and discover that there is an iron lurking in the, what’s it called? Cleaning cupboard?

There’s always that fear that the months of anticipation will result in a massive anti climax, but this year, for me at least, it was a resounding success. I’ll be brutally honest: I wasn’t that fussed about who was on stage or what music was playing and perhaps I was a bit too intoxicated to even realise what tent I was in but, for me the night was more about saying goodbye to those who had finished uni, those I10462930_10154222863405263_6155561794303247763_n wasn’t sure when I’d next see. #Emotional.

The night was more about the pre-drinking in front of the library and those unorganised group pictures of everyone laughing and joking and reminiscing about last year.

The event itself, as always, was very well organised. The hours that must have gone into preparing and setting it up are unimaginable. A thanks to the organisers and staff is definitely needed.

10352928_10203175770849269_8873376278044448277_nThe dodgems were a highlight but my now bruised and battered body suggests I may have a bit of road rage to sort out. The Pimms stand was a nice summery addition, but only because it had the shortest queue. I admit, I didn’t even attempt buying a drink inside the tents; I learnt from last years mistakes.

The atmosphere inside the tent really was insane. Plenty of bumping into friends and “Oh my god, how are you”s to be had. Zane Lowe was a particular favourite, as immersed in the music as every student and clearly having a good time.

As Kent Union predicted, I did lose most of my friends, I did have to take my heels off and I did take a gazillion (mostly blurry) photos but I did definitely have a great time. As always, a great end to the year.

Listen, Watch, Use and Follow

As this week marked my last issue as Entertainment Editor of InQuire, I thought I’d share my Listen, Watch, Use and Follow column with you. It’s something I came up with at the beginning of the year which has proved to be very popular with writers, so I thought I’d have my turn and write it myself. It’s the song, video, app and twitter account that you need for this week’s procrastination. Here’s what I stumbled across:

Listen: #SelfieImage by The Chainsmokers

Somewhere, in some hip and happening place, this duo of DJs are sitting back, counting their dollar and laughing, mocking (and secretly thanking) every selfie-taker out there for helping create this crazily catchy anthem. I love a good selfie. Come on, we all do. But even more than that, I love that The Chainsmokers are making fun of it. I’m just going to listen to it again. But first #LetMeTakeASelfie.

 

ImageWatch: Kristen Bell’s Sloth Meltdown

It’s the Ellen Degeneres Show, it’s Kristen Bell and it’s her hysterical obsession with sloths. She loves sloths. No, she worships sloths. Well, this is what happened when she came face to face with one. Go to YouTube, type that in and don’t say a word for the next 3 minutes and 42 seconds of sloth mania. Trust me on this. And once you’ve become fully acquainted with it, take a look at the auto-tuned version.

 

ImageUse: LEGO Movie

The app to end all apps is here. Those multi-coloured plastic blocks awkwardly waddling across the cinema screen was the most exciting thing I’ve seen in the last 12 months. (I’m not one of those cool, indie, artsy editors… I like films about plastic blocks). This app makes dreams come true and letting you create your own LEGO movie with your own figurines. How cool is that?! Mum, send me my LEGO! Now! Who needs a degree anyway?

 

Follow: @EmrgenImagecyKittens

“Emergency! I need cheerin- awwww a kitten! I feel so much better now”. Yep, that’s right, that’s how it works. Emrgency Kittens is just pictures of kittens and oh so ca-ute ickle puddy cats, there for whenever you need some cheering up. It’s my twitter addiction. I retweet them everywhere so life can be full of cute bundles of fluff… and rainbows and sunshine and unicorns and cuddles. (N.B my life comes with a genuine fear that one day I’ll become that crazy cat lady.)

 

‘Lego Movie’ photo by Stavos and ‘Kitten’ photo by Julochka