Sunday, July 5, 2015

London Lessons

I learned some things last week.

I learned that it is easy to accidentally turn your fridge off, via its fuse switch, and spoil a week's worth of carefully selected Waitrose ready-meals.  I learned that posh people say "what" (pronounced "whot"), not "pardon" when they want you to repeat something you have said.  I learned that the Central Line is London's hottest tube line and personally experienced this when I rode it to Stratford on London's hottest day in recorded history. 

And I learned that while living in London will expose me to countless new people and new experiences, certain things about my personality will not change.  No matter how badly I wish otherwise.

Since moving to London, everyone wants to know what I have been doing (plays, museums, festivals, galleries, etc.) and what I plan to do in the future.  The truth is I haven't seen one play and I have only found time to spend one afternoon at The National Gallery.  My desk is covered with ripped out events pages from The Evening Standard and Time Out LondonA further stack of neon yellow Post-It notes cover my laptop: polo match, Notting Hill, weekend in Paris, Borough Market.

The National Gallery - George Stubbs
 I woke up this morning worried that I am not taking advantage of everything this incredible city has to offer.  I don't want to waste one second of this opportunity but I am learning, for me, there has to be a balance.

I have advocated lots for travel that fits your personality.  With Paris, I always tell people if they don't like crowds and Renaissance art to skip the Louvre and the Mona Lisa and enjoy a calmer cultural experience at l'Orangerie. Find what you love and experience it within a new culture.

Right now my priority is making a home in London.  For the last four weeks I have been racing around London with lists buying everything from a goose down duvet to a 6-in-1 screwdriver.  I have finally unpacked my suitcases and found an instant coffee that almost replaces my beloved Nespresso machine.  I have been out most nights and rarely fall asleep before midnight.  I have bought used books at my local charity shop and signed up for a Boots Advantage Card.  It's exhilarating but also exhausting.

Belsize Park
My happiest moments are spent in my neighbourhood, establishing a routine, being part of the community, and trying to make London home.  That is what I want right now, what I need right now, and what will allow Chris and me to eventually make a life in London.

I learned that, as with Paris, I need to find my own London. 

Things you see written on a London pub's chalkboard sign...

At a pub near Euston Station regarding television coverage of the Tour de France, "See France without having to leave the pub!"

London mystery...

Why are the croissants at Pret a Manger so amazing?  They shouldn't be so delicious.  I always expect them to taste like a suburban Costco croissant but instead they are so flaky and so buttery that I end covered in crumbs and staining my outfit-du-jour.  And how is it that 90% of the time their croissants are still warm and the place smells like a Paris bakery at 4am on a Sunday?  Wikipedia describes Pret as a fast food chain?!

My favourite London purchase (so far!)...

This morning I found a black and white photograph of Audrey Hepburn in the Marie Curie charity shop just down the road from my flat.  Chris and I bought a print of Audrey at the Notting Hill Market when we came to London in 2007.  It was one of our only souvenirs from that trip and still hangs in our house in Victoria.  I feel there is a special synchronicity to my purchase this morning.


Shirley Hallett said...

Hello Erin:

I can picture you wandering your neighbourhood... picking up your fruits, vegetables, and cheeses from the shops.. talking with the shopkeepers, and taking in the London ambiance. Love reading your blog.. Chris sends it to me.. Think of you every day.. Love you xox Mom II

materfamilias said...

I love reading your blog as well, and it so pleases me that my comment follows your mother's. Not just because we're all of us Islanders from the Pacific Northwest (and have discovered the Small World-ishness of that via Twitter), but also because I just left a comment on my daughter's new blog -- she's just finished a second month in Rome, having moved there with her baby for her partner's job. . .

And as always, I love reading your blog because, well, you write so well! And your observant eye brings together quirky and wonderful and sometimes even exquisite moments -- the best possibility for travel is letting us see life and human nature and our own selves clearly, if we're alert. Those tiny and occasionally epiphanic moments captured, as you do.

Plus I'm thinking how much I could simplify my own travelling if I could simply see all of France without leaving the pub!

(plus, are you saying that my mother, first, and then I, wasted time and energy in teaching children to say "Pardon"? All that gentle correction at the rudeness of "What" "What" -- that was wasted? I've corrected all the Posh out of them?!

Julie Sloan said...

SO happy to see your blog posts! When you feel frustrated with the "London way of doing things," think of the alternative of sitting in your office in the Fraser building where life was probably too easy. BORING!

I've found that all of the things that make a place different, even when they make you want to rip your hair out, are the reason you're doing this in the first place. It's an adventure, a challenge, and a choice to live your life deliberately. You've got cajones, girl, and don't you forget it.

Big hugs, from the empty, Erin-less offices of UVic Law...


Serviced Apartment London Lady said...

That's a great photo you found in the charity shop, Audrey had such a beautiful face.