Thursday, 18 August 2011

Norfolk, August

Norfolk last weekend. Heavy rain that made rivulets down the aged glass of the conservatory. Blazing sunshine that allowed us to eat outdoors and walk barefoot on the grass. Double yolked eggs for breakfast cooked by my sister. Roses, sweetpeas, in mugs, vases, jugs all over the house. In the garden, dahlias, in sunrise colours, hiding coyly behind fronds of the asparagus plants. A half-collapsed apple tree, collecting the sour cookers early, packing into boxes. Ladybirds, everywhere. Picking tiny alpine strawberries at dusk, clambering between the young raspberry canes for the first of the season. Digging up potatoes, earth under my nails. Blackberry picking, which always makes me think of the Seamus Heaney poem in my GCSE English anthology. Gorging on peaches.

After the week that was, it did feel good to get out of the city.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

London, joys

And, because what I like most of all is the positive, the joyous, the uplifting, here are a few London joys from the past weeks.

Days off in between finishing old job and starting new, meeting friends for lunch in Bloomsbury for Bea's piled high salad plates or on Exmouth Market for veggie burritos wrapped in silver foil. Lazy Sundays in Regent's Park, hidden in a secret garden behind a gate, electric blue peacocks and flowerbeds tumultuous with colour. Soft set, barely frozen gelato on Marylebone High Street, deliciously honey-flavoured, honeycomb studded. Fela at Sadler's Wells, the music coursing through me, the sheer, overwhelming desire to dance with abandon. Sweet lassis and rava dosas in a bhel poori house behind Euston. On a random Wednesday, air hot and heavy, an East London rooftop bar, views of Canary Wharf in the distance. Pizza on Primrose Hill, the views, the lights. Field Day festival in Victoria Park, live music, guitars, tambourines, a brass band in a proper bandstand, pear cider, paper bags of doughnuts, burritos (more) the size of small babies, dancing in packed tents or under a darkening sky, bumping into so many familiar faces. Pub lunches in beer gardens, rain part way through, British summer. Lemonade and lime, grey t-shirts with pigeons, bird of this city. Brioche french toast on a Saturday morning, syrup, strawberries, icing sugar. The Globe Theatre midweek for The Globe Mysteries, standing in the yard, imagining a time gone by. Green Park in the early morning sunshine, deckchairs still folded, stacked.


What struck me most of all last week was how many friends, colleagues, others, were still saying, determinedly, despite it all, I am still proud to be a Londoner, still proud this is my city.

London skyline pic, also by C

Friday, 12 August 2011

London, burning

Last Friday night five of us take pizza and beers up to Primrose Hill, sit, look out across the city lights, debate our favourite London building. C says he wants to move to the country, I say, what, no, and give up all this?

The next night the riots start. We wake to the news Sunday, disbelieving. Sunday night there are more, elsewhere. Monday, reading the papers, the disbelief, the shock is still there.

After work M and I go for a run, run to the top of Primrose Hill, lungs bursting. It begins to rain, heavily, but there is sun too, and a double rainbow. We pound back down the hill. At home we follow the news all evening, increasingly stunned at what we are seeing, eventually force ourselves to bed.

I have no words, really. Or, I have words, but they are confused, half formed, not ready to commit to print.

I will though, say this: London is still, to my mind, a wonderful city. Still my home. Still has my heart.


C took the photo last Friday night, I think. Camera balanced on pizza empty pizza boxes. I like it. Unfocussed, it sums up a little how I feel.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Suffolk, Yurts

On Friday afternoon, a week into the new job, I quitted the city, headed for the Suffolk countryside. One large and one small train later I was met at the station by one of our group and driven the short final stretch to our destination, Suffolk Yurt Holidays, just outside Woodbridge.

I am not quite sure what I was expecting when a weekend away 'glamping' with some girlfriends was mentioned, but this was above and beyond. The beauty of the campsite took my breath away. I arrived later than the others, head still reeling from the overload of new information and unfamiliar acronyms the first week of a new job always entails, but within a few moments of being there all that had slipped away. The barbecue had been lit and the others had prepped salad and opened tubs of dips, olives, made homemade burgers, marinated chicken, stuffed peppers with cheese for us vegetarians. I was shown the shower room, complete with an eco-friendly, sustainable waste water system, the shared kitchen, with provisions of olive oil and sea salt, and a very comprehensive recycling system, and then the yurts themselves, which were beautiful, hand-crafted wooden inner structures made from local wood, wooden floors, domed ceilings, futons made up with clean white sheets and plumped duvets. All lying within the most stunning meadow, thick with wildflowers, daisies, buttercups, clover, cow parsley, and many more that I do not know the names of. Gently waving grasses, and the background hum of crickets. The sun was setting, hitting the everything with glorious light, causing the yellow flowers to turn golden. We ate, drank chilled white wine, talked. Later, moved to the campfire area, set a fire going, poured some more wine, talked some more. I felt so wonderfully relaxed, so far removed from the city, from the stresses of a new job (I am loving it, but being the new girl can be tiring). We stayed, sitting in a circle on the logs, until the fire had burned down, only glowing coals remained. In the yurt we lit the hurricane lamps and a small fire on the wood burner to take the slight chill off, got into pyjamas, brushed out teeth, blew out the lights, clambered into bed.

In the morning I awoke to natural light, stepped outside for awhile, took a few photographs, then got back into bed and dozed until late morning, door open onto the meadow. Later we breakfasted on toast and raspberry jam as chickens clucked around us in the grass. Idyllic. I had to be back in London later that day for a friend's birthday, so left, sadly, shortly after, with time for a quick dash round Woodbridge before my train, picked up a bunch of scented sweet-peas. I know the others went for a country walk and pub lunch, then on Sunday made it to Walberswick which is one of my favourite beach locations, not too far from my parents'.

I will be back, one night wasn't enough.