Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Sunday afternoon strolls

Regent's Park was on fine form on Sunday afternoon. The backside of London Zoo (seen through fences and hedges) was quiet aside from a couple of circumspect looking camels.

The extensive fields inside the park were littered with people enjoying the twilight. And one particularly excited dog enjoyed a skillful Sunday game of football with his owner.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Urban scenery

When you live in a city that crawls with taxis, is built on top of a worm farm of snaking tubes, and is littered with an elaborate fusion of buildings from all centuries, you can find yourself in a constant state of sensory overload.

But every now and then, something catches your eye, and you steal a moment of beauty in this otherwise crazy, hectic world.

Strolling back from a Shoreditch flat white, I walked past this colourful scene.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

'summer' loving

At the start of every summer, Londoners go crazy booking in events to celebrate the fact the temperature might push over into double figures.

Despite one disappointing summer after another, somehow you still see that festival / outdoor gig / rooftop bar / sporting fixture / open air theatre listing and think, 'great! let's book it!'.

And so if you're anything like me, you may well find yourself on a rooftop in Hoxton, wrapped in blankets, wearing a winter coat and a hat, watching a very charming film, whilst dodging the occasional rainstorm.

Despite it turning out to be quite the opposite of a summer event, it still reminded me again why love London.

Roll on actual summer and the extensive list of outdoor events I've managed to line up.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Chickpizz anyone?

One of the joyful things about London is her vast array of ridiculously named shops. Here's one fantastic example I came across the other day.

Possibly the best bit is the image of the baby chicken standing next to the pizza. I don't think anyone really wants to see a cartoon version of what they're about to purchase...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

That old wheel

Propped up against the sky, like a discarded bicycle wheel meant for a giant's ten speed.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dear London

Through all the seasons, 
the rain, sun and snow, 
it's the little things about you, 
that make me love you so.

(The tunnel leading to the Waterloo & City Line, at Bank Station)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A quick and dirty life audit

In a fit of dissertation procrastination recently, I thought I'd do an audit of the contents of my purse.

My friend Eloise almost hyperventilates every time she sees my fabulous red purse. Partially because she's got good taste in accessories, but mainly because she can't cope with the way it looks like it's about to explode into a massive spontaneous tornado of Sainsbury's receipts and coffee loyalty cards.

So, the other day when I was staring into the pockets of my financial life, I wondered what was really in there, and what it says about a person.

Here's the answer to my first question:

1x National Insurance card
2x credit cards
2x debit cards
1x drivers licence
1x work swipe card
1x M&S gift card with about £5 left on it
1x Oasis gift card (last year's birthday present from work I've not managed to spend)
1x Waterstones gift card (this year's birthday offering from work)
1x Waterstones loyalty card
1x Boots loyalty card
1x Superdrug loyalty card
1x Nectar loyalty card
1x St John's Ambulance emergency treatment card + 1x face shield for CPR
1x Wellcome Library membership card
1x gym membership card (a bit dusty)
5x my own business cards with an old job title
1x blood donor card
1x organ donor card
1x bone marrow donor card
2x food loyalty cards

...And a grand total of eight coffee loyalty cards.

My friend at work told me today that this actually makes me a very disloyal coffee drinker.

I guess that would also make me a very disloyal flyer considering my six frequent flyer memberships..

If I was to analyse that list and think about what it says about me as a person, I'd say I like to collect things (points and stamps), but I also quite like the idea of giving things away (namely blood, organs, and bone marrow).

And I should probably go back to the gym. If only to work off all the caffeine.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Winter wonderland

It's that time again in London. A time of delayed trains, salted pavements, bad pun weather headlines, and dusting off your wellies. Yep, that's right, it's snow time.

There's nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning, poking your slightly dusty head around the corner and seeing white. Just a whole lot of white.

There's only one thing to do in this situation. Go back to bed. But after some more sleep, you have to get up and make a snowman.

For only my second ever snowman, I think he's a pretty good effort. We even had people requesting photos with him. And a dog peed on him. Surely the highest form of flattery?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The art of growing up

This week has been a reminder to me about 'the art of growing up'.

When you're fifteen, you have all sorts of ideas about how you'll be when you're a grown up. Where you'll live, what you'll 'do', who you'll spend your time with.

One key difference between being fifteen, and being in your thirties for me, is the looming feeling of mortality. Because, after all, everyone is going to die at some stage.

Fortunately my crippling fear of death has some positive side effects. I'd like to think it makes me live life the way I (mostly) do. That life which when someone says to me 'champagne or an early night?' I'll always go the way of champagne.

I can so vividly remember the time I first watched Dead Poet's Society, and the taste that John Keating's (played by Robin Williams) speech left with me.

"They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary." 

Seize the day. Suck life dry. Live a life less ordinary.

It's most likely the only one we'll get.

So in the moments that work has ground me into the floor, or the times that I've had to reassemble the shattered remains of a broken heart, I try to tell myself a few things.

Even the hideous feelings, even the despair and all the sadness, help make you feel alive. The downs make the ups higher, hearts only break because they truly loved before, and failure only tastes so bitter because success is so sweet.

I hope that I'll never really 'grow up' in the way I used to think I would. I always want to laugh when I wear my clothing backwards to work, to sometimes stay up way too late, to have those moments when you think you might burst with wonder, amazement, and joy.

And that I'll keep choosing champagne.

Friday, 4 January 2013

New Year's Day food heaven

This was New Year's Day. At least it was the second course, after the panettone and before the crepes.

For that brief moment when I was eating it, this bacon and egg sandwich was my everything. It completed me. It made right all the wrongs in the world.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012, the year that was.

Yes, it's that time again. The annual analysis of the year that was.

In case you want to take a look at previous years (I have quite a stack of these now) you can find them below:

2011, 2010, 2009

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?

Celebrated living in the same place for five years. Watched numerous Olympic and Paralympic events live. Saw the Queen (and almost peed my pants with excitement).

2. What countries did you visit?

I went to Wales for the weekend; Ghana for a week; Barcelona, Spain for sangria; and to Russia with mum.

3. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Better judgement.

4. What date from 2012 will remain firmly etched upon your memory, and why?

That one is going to have to remain my secret. But boy is it etched in there...

5. What was your biggest achievement of the year, and why?

Probably finally paying off my student loan. That and drinking A LOT of cocktails.

6. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope. Once again I came off scot free. 

7. What was the best thing you bought?

Numerous items from eBay including: my vintage satchel, my fabulous 1980s anglepoise lamp, a silk blouse with great buttons, and black Audrey Hepburn style dress which I'll never have occasion to wear, but adore all the same.

8. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Once again the trophy has to go to the Franconia ladies, and also my biggest sister for always being on the end of emails and texts when I've had the frequent disasters that 2012 has brought with it. Oh and finally my beautiful friends Kate and Brent for taking the leap and starting their own business.

9. Where did most of your money go?

On final payments to my student loan, flat whites, tickets to events, and vintage items on eBay.

10. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Aside from seeing the Queen at Royal Ascot, definitely standing on the side of the Thames watching the flotilla of boats pass for the Royal Jubilee celebrations. Also being lucky enough to go to three events for Olympics and Paralympics.

11. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Studying. Again.

12. What do you wish you'd done less of?

No regrets. It's a policy.

13. What did you want and get?

A ridiculously fun year; a visit from my Ma; a lot of laughter, and some fabulous new friends.

14. What did you want and not get?

The Master's. Again. And something else which I'm probably better off not having anyway..

15. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and did you make any for 2013?

2012's resolutions were: do an Olympic distance triathlon, finish my masters, pay off my student loan, work less, live more.

The Olympic distance triathlon idea went out the window fairly quickly once I realised I actually detest swimming front crawl up and down a pool. I even took swimming lessons but after a while managed to find many other things to spend my time on that weren't water-based. Perhaps I'll go back to duathlons..

The masters remains a shackle but one which I'm hoping I'll finally be released of in two months' time.

I did manage to pay off my student loan which was a great feeling. I now no longer need to throw handfuls of cash in the direction of New Zealand for what seems like no reason or purpose whatsoever.

And finally on the work less, and live more? I most certainly did that.

2012 will go down in Emma history as the year I managed to squeeze more fun from, than I ever thought possible. Everything from dancing the night away at the Notting Hill Arts Club until 3.30am on a school night; doing a poor version of the Charleston to a big band in a grand hall near Euston; flicking the braces of soldiers and sailors at a Blitz party in tunnels under Waterloo; attending a beautiful Sikh wedding; finding our way into a private box at Royal Ascot with too much champagne and some dainty finger sandwiches; somehow ending up at a members' club in Moorgate attending the 30th of someone I'd never met; and making it out of London to dance in a tent, under lit up trees on mid-summer's night.

So, what about 2013's resolutions, I hear you ask. Well...

To unsubscribe to all the annoying emails I get from shops I bought stuff from once, petitions I signed years ago, and voucher companies who continually try to sell me overpriced unidentifiable beauty treatments.

To actually bring back the dying art of writing letters. I've said this before, but this time I'd like to actually do it.

And I'd like to learn to sew. Properly. With a machine and patterns and everything.

Here's to another crazy, beautiful year on this earth.