Monthly Archives: March 2011

Hostel Review: St Christopher’s Inn, Hammersmith

Review - St Christopher's Inn (Hammersmith)

Scanning through potential hostels for a weekend in London is no easy task. Doing it a couple of weeks before you are due to go is an actual nightmare. All in all you will likely find plenty to choose from but, sadly, with limited availability. We had planned a hotel but decided on our budget we would slum it instead.

No big deal. After all It is how we met.

St Christopher’s Inn,  Hammersmith seemed fine. Or in other words after a couple of hours of banging my head against the computer it came under the ‘It’ll do!’ category.

It was dead easy to get to at around half an hour outside the centre, directly on the Hammersmith Line. Stepping out the station, you are greeted with a busy junction full of bustle, with the hostel situated directly across the street. A perfect area to drop your bag off and explore a bit. The hostel itself is a part of the Belushi’s franchise meaning it is directly situated above a bar.

Check in was at the bar itself and we were greeted by a tired looking bar-maid. Friendly and helpful enough to pass, however i got the impression she was just going through the motions. We had booked a 6 person mixed dorm. With a busy weekend ahead we only required a place to crash,not cozy time.Sharing with others didn’t matter. It’s a roll of the dice. You hope for four playboy models. In reality you usually get four drunk Irishman. Our room however was pretty empty the whole weekend.

The room on the second floor was fairly basic and run down. The floor had two showers and two toilets,one of which was out-of-order however they were kept fairly clean.

St Christopher’s advertises special promotions for hostel guests (The usual – Pint of Fosters for two quid, 10 percent discount etc). In fact there are posters everywhere for it. It was because of this I was left a bit perplexed as a round of drinks at the bar cost almost double than what was advertised, and out of the two or three occasions we drank there,we received no discount. A bit disappointing.

Breakfast was a shambles. I’m fairly laid back however certain things do get my back up (probably because I’ve worked in similar places before). There was no hot water for the coffee. I stood around confused for a couple of minutes and decided to ask the barman. Of course you get it from the bar! How silly of me. I can’t believe I missed the sign that should be there or I must not of listened when the barman said hello this morning. Of course – there was neither. Everyone else had the same bewildered looks on their faces. Totally avoidable and fairly incompetent. There was no plates or cups either. I pointed this out to which I was told “They need washed” Hmm…better get going then! Five minutes later someone sauntered in with new crockery and carried on her conversation. No rush guys.

After breakfast we had planned to go to the Natural History museum(which is around three stops away) but wasn’t quite sure which stop to get off. I asked the barman to which he replied “I don’t know mate”. Great. Shouldn’t you know things like these working in a hostel? Maybe I’m being harsh.In all fairness he did recommend I asked the station. Better than nothing.

On the Saturday night it was a rather late one,and we strolled in at 4 in the morning. The reception is 24 hours but we were warned prior that the door may be locked. It was, so I chapped on the window catching the bar mans attention by flashing my key card. After seeing is it took him forever to open the door as he was more concerned with finishing his conversation than letting us in. I knocked again and he finally opened up. Pretty poor show.

Overall, the hostel had very little to offer apart from the surrounding area and I’m afraid I can’t recommend it.

The Good

Location – Easy as hell to get too with everything you need. A minute from the underground,bars,shops and cafes.Half an hour from the main attractions.

The Price – Not bad.For the two of us for four nights it came too £160. That’s twenty quid a night. If you were to make that a private room you can stick on another 100. In that case – get a hotel.London isn’t cheap but this was okay.

Breakfast Included. – If you can find your way around the gauntlet then knock yourself out.

The Bad

The staff – Really incompetent, going through the motions, unhelpful and not that friendly.

The noise – Staying above a bar and right above a busy junction will not guarantee you a good nights sleep. Bring ear plugs.

If you don’t mind slumming it every once in a while,and you are on a budget a hostel is generally a fun, vibrant and friendly place to go. St Christopher’s however? Not so much. Shop around. If i had more time I wouldn’t have booked there at all. As it was I was finding it hard to get a hostel never mind a private room. London has a crazy amount of cheap hostels, some of which have rave reviews. St Christopher’s is one. I’m really not sure why.

Off the subject slightly but if you are ever looking for a decent hostel in Edinburgh stay at the ‘High Street Hostel’ just off the Royal Mile. A tenner a night,amazing location,and some of the friendliest and informative staff I have met. A great,cool little place to crash. I highly recommend it.Check out the link below,along with St Christopher’s –

http://highstreethostel.com/

http://www.st-christophers.co.uk/london-hostels/london/hammersmith

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For All The Cows – Can you be motivated?

You can’t buy motivation.You can buy alternatives i guess. A tab of ecstasy,two weeks in Zante and a huge pair of tits should get the blood flowing  but lets face it – all three won’t last forever. True motivation starts from the bottom and works its way up (Not physically guys). It essentially requires one thing. Change. And ironically most change requires one thing. Motivation. Let’s put it this way. We all have a breaking point.For the sake of argument lets call it a magic line (Which i guess could also class as a motivator depending on what your line consists of).

A line between being productive and being lazy.And I’m sure everyone will agree it’s far easier being lazy than being productive,especially with the sheer amount of distractions around. Yes – I’m looking at you Facebook. However mapping out that magic line in your head,however long or short it may be is a start. Figuring out the boundaries,getting to the edge and hopping over to the better side is the true battle.

For those of you that know me well should know that I’m full of ideas (again  – draw that magic line. The margin between an idea and shit is rather fine) Acting on these plans has been somewhat hit or miss in the past. I’d say I was mostly all talk but with the best of intentions.Not that I lie. But I tend to have a grand scheme which in theory is perfectly achievable. I just didn’t act on it.

I have realised you have to be realistic with future plans without necessarily stamping out dreams of walking on the moon or owning a hotel. I think it’s important to have ambitions and goals. However making them achievable ( in your own mind. Not anyone elses) is important. It makes getting there all that more easier when you know deep down – you can do it. Pipe dreams are only that when there is nothing to build the dream from.Reaching for the stars,thinking failure is the only option can be destroying to morale and motivation.Realising failure is not an option can help building in many senses.But as most things. It starts from the ground up.

How many of us work better under pressures and deadlines? And how many of us squander our time when not being pushed?And how many blogs am I going to write in the style of a pyramid scheme or scam e-mail? Boggling.

Anyway.

Keeping things in perspective,under control and close enough to touch can be the difference between one side of the magic line and the other. I believe  in something worth having doesn’t come for free and I hope most people feel the same. Essentially – you get out what you put in. That walk on the moon won’t come without serious training,hard work,sacrifice,self-control,money,guidance and a huge slice of luck. So having ambition is a great thing. Having the tools to go with the ambition is essential for any of your aspirations to come reality.And the main tool is of course – motivation.

And now onto the point…..

I know time and time again i’ve harped on about this,that or the other,mainly trying to convince myself rather than you guys on my grand plans for life. As I sit and reflect I have come to the conclusion that success has been a mixed bag however I am definitely on the right track. Not in terms of a career,a house and all the rest that comes with being a grown up,but in terms of personal development I feel i’ve came on leaps and bounds.I’ll roughly go into what I wanted from life recently and what I have or haven’t achieved,bundled in with a whole lot of excuses for my actions.

It wouldn’t be me without them.

More recently; I wanted to write a book:

Not even close. I can’t even find the (Insert word of the day) to write a blog nevermind a novel. Although that being said at least it has constantly been on my mind. I think about it all the time. I actually edited one of my pieces right down to enter into a short story competition but was still over the allocated allowance. I didn’t want to change much more so I left it. But i have found a great site that tells you of up coming contests and i have been keeping an eye out. I have a couple of ideas and as the criteria is so varied from competition to competition,I’m just waiting on the right one to come along. Still – I should be writing a lot more.It’s something i truly enjoy and get something out of it. I know what i have to do (ie – forcefully fuck Facebook right up the ass and let it bleed to death.Harsh but at least you get my point) but of course – it’s just a matter of acting on it! Expect a couple of reviews in the near future as I am going to try my hand at that. Yes expect. But don’t bank on it.

Bank on natural disasters. Then you are onto a winner. The world has gone to shit. Again.

I wanted to travel:

Well you all know I grabbed the ball and ran with it on that one. I’m still in Germany as I write this feeling a lot better about it. I love the town but hated my job. I love my girlfriend but hate desperate housewives. You have to take the good with the bad. I can live with the latter and literally do,however the job was a major problem. I could not stand it. I’ve worked in a lot of places for a lot of different people in my short life, but nothing quite tried me like La Cucina (You may remember an earlier blog entitled the same).To cut a long story relatively short,there was a lot of issues which made working there really not worth it,despite how much I needed work. Even thinking of writing about it makes my head hurt so I’m not even going to bother. The final straw was getting 100 Euros taken off my already shabby wage,for breaks i had never,ever taken. ridiculous. And insulting.Especcialy for someone who works as hard as I do.

So I moved on and now work as a chef in an Irish Bar. Pretty simple and a lot better for my sanity and morale.It’s not easy starting from scratch in a new Country. You need to catch a break.I feel a i caught a bad one.I wasn’t happy.And I was seriously seeing cracks emerging working in the Italian. It feels good to have my head out the gutter and back on track. And I get paid so much better and treated with a little more respect. Not treated like a fucking idiot.With the next trip booked for October through till February I have something to work towards now. And the hours are rolling in. We will be away before we know it.

I wanted to teach English:

On the lead up to Christmas i was working on my English teaching Course most days and was feeling pretty good about it. I really enjoyed the creative side of it (Lesson planning,teaching methods) but the grammar was driving me mental. Still – in typical fashion i rushed through it carelessly,knowing that i had to pay a fine if i went over the allocated time. The difference being that this time i actually passed something and felt pretty damn good about it. You see – I have only worked full-time since school,and school in itself was one big failure. I have done very little learning since and to pass something (as little as it may be in comparison to a degree or a HIV test) meant the world to me.I am easily distracted and to focus and follow through on something I had started was a big deal for me. I actually look forward to doing more. Again this all boils down to motivation. If i had failed i would have been in my underwear,smoking a twenty pack and jakking off to red-tube about now.

Sadly I won’t be able to use this qualification anytime soon as i already have plans stretching well into next year. However it’s good to know it’s there for me and always an option. It was originally what i wanted to do.

I did teach my first class during my time here. A group of 6 kids ranging from 4 to 7. Pretty daunting.But that’s a story for another day. I did pretty well however around six people were going for the same job. You just can’t compete against five pedophiles and Kate Mccann. I didn’t stand a chance.

Now for a smaller scale:

I want to punch Sarah Cox square in the face – If motivated enough – Achievable.

I want to go to Wrestlemania – definitely achievable.

I want to double the amount of dishes i can currently make and perfect the ones I can – Well on my way I’d say.

I want enough money to have fun whilst i travel – Again,on my way.

I want a career sooner rather than later – yeh that’s one for next year i think. Petra is moving to the UK and i see that as a good opportunity for a fresh start. I can’t work in bars and restaurants forever. Nobody wants a grey pubic hair in their soup.

I want to lose this beer gut once and for all! – meh. You know what like. Beer here,beer there. Unless I am playing sport I find all offer forms of exercise a drag. Who wants to sit up when you can sit down? Yes. I should really read my own words and take my own advice on that one.

I want to watch another channel that isn’t CNN or BBC World – Not possible unless it’s in German. I refuse to watch MTV regardless of what Country I’m in.

I want to speak German – Getting there but I have nowhere near put in the work I should be. Although I have a great opportunity now as the chef at work speaks no English at all. I should really take advantage of that and kill two birds with one stone.

I want to be motivated – Hurray! I bet you didn’t see that coming?…..

Everything is achievable if all the pieces in your life are set up in a certain way,that makes any task big or small seem effortless.For example, the difference between going to bed that hour later or getting up an hour earlier can shape and mold the day ahead. Of course im only speaking of my own experiences. Some people are more motivated than others. When I arrived in Germany I had grand plans to learn the language,go out and make some friends,play football and generally insert myself into the community. It didn’t happen and as much as I should take responsibility for myself, I partly blame my job. I was there most nights and can not stress how much I hated it. It was dragging me down and being the sensitive soul I am, became quite down-hearted. It left me with hours to kill during the day which were mostly spent on the internet,cooking and worrying and stressing about going to work. I found it impossible to become motivated. Now that I have another job which is far more easier to stomach,i’ve found a new lease of life over here. I’m feeling better and being more productive with my time and generally more upbeat about the day ahead,despite inevitably going to work in the evening. If you spend so much of your life in one place it is important you get some sort of enjoyment out of it however little or large it may be. It can be said for other situations. Mental girlfriends,having kids and too much Uni work i guess could all potentially drag you down.  Everyday needs a balance. It’s about finding a balance that’s good for you near to that magic line. Setting up camp to far away can result in wasted hours becoming wasted days. Wasted days becoming wasted weeks. And wasted weeks becoming months and years. When you inevitably move onto something else in life whatever it may be,do you really want to regret wasted opportunities? In my opinion wasted time is just that. A wasted opportunity. Being motivated can have unseen importance,between grabbing on and letting life pass you by. Living on the edge for whatever may come your way can – make all the difference.

That’ll do it for today folks. A big thank you to everyone I met up with over the past couple of weeks,back in the UK. It was great seeing you all and it won’t be too long untill we cross paths again. Untill then i will remain in Germany untill the Summer,before returning home to find work in Aberdeen for three months. So I will see some of you over the Summer.

Take it easy.

Crocker.