After the last time I went out with Books and Churches to meet more expats, I decided to join the club and pay for a three month membership. This means I can join any Internations event for free now, without having to pay the standard 10pounds entrance fee. All my welcome drinks are free (before I just considered the 10pound fee as really the fee for the drink and called it a day). By buying the membership this way, I get a discounted rate every month. It's something like 7pounds a month and I can go to as many events as I like.
So because of this, I've been sort of going nuts with them, wanting to get my money's worth and wanting to meet more people, make more of my time here with Don. I've had great success meeting interesting people at the events, like Liono (though we're not longer speaking) and new Ironman (who I find interesting, though unfortunately does not live in town). The potential to meet people for dating is quite high...so overall this is a win. Expat community, potential success.
My girlfriends are also quite fond of the entire idea - Books, Churches, and Two, though Two is so busy that she's had a hard time attending any events. The first one she went to (on her own) she decided to volunteer as part of the organizers group so only saw a rather limited view of what the event was like. Next time she's coming with me as just an attendee, so hopefully she'll have a better time.
Anyway, after joining this unlimited three-month membership, Churches and I made a date to go on a Thursday (the official sponsored events are about once a week, though there are satellite groups that meet for things like dinners and wine tastings and other fun activities...usually not as free) and made our plans. We were to leave straight from work, eat a leisurely dinner on the way there, and then have a nice night out on the town before hitting Friday and the weekend, where we both had good plans.
So, we left work around 5:30pm on Thursday and headed out for a casual bite to eat. Churches knew about a cute healthy restaurant outside of Oxford Circus, so that's where we went. It was lovely.
Not wanting to be hungover and knowing we would likely be drinking a decent amount (free drink, the interest in drinking wine because it'd already been a hell of a week and would continue to be until the end), we ordered with gusto:
Kale salad with peanut dressing and cilantro. I absolutely loved this. I loved it so much that the weekend following I actually bought raw kale on my own plus peanuts and peanut butter and plan to reproduce it as much as possible. Unfortunately cilantro was not spotted, so that will need to take a hit. Whatever. I will still make it work. So excited. Really getting into this superfoods veggie thing really hardcore. Meat is just an accessory of deliciousness in my life now.
A literal superfoods salad (that's what it was called in the menu, also): quinoa, kale, avocado, cucumber, broccoli, nuts and seeds. All covered in a nice creamy dressing. I have been loving these salads more and more every time I see them in restaurants. London loves these salads, and so do I. So healthy (or at least they want you to think so). I feel great eating them, so it's a win as far as I am concerned.
Little bit of waffle fry action. Can't be all health all the time, and we were sharing. Wonderful chili sauce to go with it instead of just ketchup. These were actually the least interesting thing that came with our meal though, surprisingly. Both of us kind of forgot about it in the midst of all that good salad veggie goodness. We're both kind of nuts about health and Churches is really ramping up her running and exercise in an initiative to get thin and healthy. I'm also starting up my gym sessions again, now that I've rested long enough and am no longer in constant pain.
Chicken and chorizo with aioli. Just okay in my opinion, but necessary protein for the meal. I'm finding myself less and less drawn to protein over time but since I do eat it so infrequently now I find I will crave it about once a week if I've done a bad job of eating it. That's alright with me - I'll keep a store of nuts or emergency meat in my freezer just for those occasions. Pretty awesome. I'm feeling the nutrition every time I consume. Keeping it real.
And we topped it all off with a shared carafe of their house red wine. Shared, mind you. And quite cheap. Great way to start off the night.
We arrived an hour after the event started and had a horrendous time finding the event in the packed club. It was in a semi-posh club in the middle of the city's smaller financial district (not the hardcore Canary Wharf but right outside of Bank). When we first arrived, all we saw were beautiful people dressed nicely. We were kind of surprised since usually Internations is a little bit more of a motley crew - everyone coming from different parts of the world, little more varied and less well-dressed. There's something appealing and unappealing about that, but whatever. So we were shocked when we walked into a completely well-dressed crowd who were all around the same age (that's another thing about Internations - the age range is anywhere from early 20's to the mid 40's). Turns out we were just in the wrong area. Someone recognized me though, from a previous event, milling about the normal people, and steered us in the right direction. Ah, that's a bit better. Clearly this is where we should have been. Hilarious.
It was like a record needle scratched. The music wasn't as good, there were slightly creepy men walking around scoping all the women out, and well, people were just a lot more awkward. As much as I love Internations, and truly I do, there are a lot of weirdos that go. Two has likened it to a singles mixer more than once to me. She's not wrong. I'll fully admit that my lady friends and I go partly for this reason. You're likely to see eye to eye with an expat more than a Brit in a lot of situations. 99% of the people who go are single.
Anyway, we got our free drink tickets and started to mingle. The rest of the night was nice, having met some nice people (as we always do), and we stayed as late as we dared without letting the tube close on us (which is a huge pain, being in the middle of the city and living on the outskirts). I met a nice Dutch banker who is only here temporarily and Churches met a nice Italian.
My next hit at the Internations scene will be next Friday. This could be my weekly going out session. I wonder if this will start to become a routine for the next three months of my membership. We'll see. For now I'm having fun though, so I guess I'll have fun while I can.