Tag Archives: london

Dear London, please excuse my self indulgence…

22 Jan


Today I spoke to my friend Jessica, who is on an adventure in Europe right now. It was some ungodly jetlagged hour in a grungy London hotel room, when sleep evaded her. But she told me something sweet that couldn’t contain her awe and wonder. She said to me, ‘Oh my god Crystal, nothing prepares you for how beautiful London is! The buildings – wow! I love London.’ And then I wanted to cry.

I have a strange and lusty fixation with that city. Not something that can be justified considering the limited time I have spent there – two weeks surely doesn’t count for much. And yet I have always had an affinity with London, even before setting foot on the ancient streets. Going there only made me love it more. It felt like home. It was overwhelming.

So many things are different there, and yet so many things the same as here. London made a huge impression on this impressionable young girl, who has been yearning to go there since sometime before childhood (forever!). I don’t even think I can quite explain why I love it.

It is somehow magical. And quirky eclectic. It’s old and historical; full of stories. It is full of photos waiting to happen. It is fashion. Its colour and noise. Old meets new, and the future. It is old weathered brick walls. Its people and things from everywhere and some other places too. It is the gateway to Europe. It is the rain and the light. Art and design. The snow and the greasy spoon cafes. All that architecture. It is the city that makes other places make sense – the ‘motherland’ of a once far and wide empire. It makes me happy and makes me smile. And it’s mainly that this isn’t even the half of it. But it also makes me cry. And I would like to think it needs me there. It fills me with inspiration and exploration. It makes me feel like a better person.

After having done my own pilgrimage around Europe, it felt like a homecoming returning there, for just one more fleeting night. It felt right. It truly made me weep to leave. On a Finnair flight headed for Helsinki, silent tears streamed down my face as the wheels of the plane left the tarmac, and we flew out over London just waking up to the morning light, and another day. I cried and I wanted to have my own another day. I guess it may have been partly because I had barely slept in three days (blame Amsterdam), and it may have been because I was a little homesick too.

But I don’t cry in public. Ever.

So dear London: (And everyone else of course!) Please excuse my self indulgence. It’s just that I love you. For real though and not like a stalker.




london calling.

24 Dec

As our time here in London draws to an untimely close, I wonder how I can leave this city, and I wonder, when I will be back. Next year holds a whole lot of mystery for me. I have so many decisions to make about the direction of my life. This is the first time, in the longest time, where I am totally free to actually make choice. What I decide now will shape the course of my life to come.

For years and years, the future has been fairly predetermined for me, for all of us really. You spend almost all the years of your life that you can remember, at school. Firstly primary, and then onto high school – probably a decision mostly made by your parents. Beginning high school seems like the biggest deal at the time, and then all of a sudden, there you are at the School Certificate. For me, whether to leave school or not after year ten, was never a decision to make. Long ago discounted, I had lived with the assumption that I would complete the HSC  for most of my life. When it comes to deciding what to do after school, well now that is a decision. A huge one. But after that hurdle, it’s back to having a predetermined outlook. Uni took me three and a half years, and I have never worked so hard in my life. Finishing six months early, kind of left me in a little bit of a limbo, but proved highly useful, being able to work and save for this trip, in that time. Even then, there was no real choice about what to do with my future, since I knew I would be away for two months. It made getting a permanent job difficult and a little bit futile, it made plans hard to make. The time has been defined almost entirely by this trip. It was my reason for doing all the things I had to do. But now… When I get back. What exactly?

One option lies in coming to London to work for a while, and I guess now, it really is an option. Before this trip, it was a bit of an unknown. Now London is like an old friend. It is such an easy city to be in, it’s so much like home, but still different enough to be interesting. There is so much to do and see here, more then we could possibly ever do in two weeks. And if London or England isn’t enough for you, try Europe. Just next door really. Flying over the channel, between France and England, it took just minutes. I watched the lights of one city melt away into the ocean, only to shortly be re-lit as the winter skies of London. It’s magical, and it’s crazy.

How do you possibly try and comprehend this part of the world? The British love Australia for it’s space (and weather), but Australians love Britain for it’s proximity (and homely qualities, hard to come by overseas). I love London for the winter,for the accents, the tube, for Banksy and Invader, for the way Londoner’s do winter fashion so well. I love London for the cute IndieBrit guys, for the diversity, for the culture – the galleries and museums, the exhibitions and the sheer quality of what you have access to. I love it for the history, and for the snow, I love it for the Great British designers, Oyster cards, for the mayhem of Oxford Circus at Christmas, for the Tower of London, and for the Thames. I love walking the streets, imagining who walked there before me, what history has passed before me. And I love the way it is such a central hub, there are literally people from all over the world here. It is a true and great international city.

Boxing day sees the start of our tour, and a real eye opener to Europe, the rest of the world really. I can only hope that it clarifies a lot of things for me. Other options next year are endless, I won’t bore you with the details. All I can say, is that I am sad to see the end of our time in London. Tomorrow is Christmas Day, the only day of the year, where London shuts down completely. And that is it.

It is all over.

But Paris waits.

love in a cold climate.

19 Dec

It seems silly, that as human beings, we spend so much time talking about the weather. But it’s got more then something to do with filling awkward silences, and starting conversations with people that we have no idea what to say to. I think it also has to do with the unpredictability of the weather, and the way that we have no control over it. Humans love to control things, to feel like they have a hold on how things are panning out. The history of the world is based around this concept. But none, not even the most O/C of us, can truly control every aspect of our lives. Not really, and this scares us a little. And so, in some vain effort to recapture just a little control, we choose to waste hours and hours of our lives, hours that we will never get back, discussing the weather – complaining about it, noting it’s quirks, it’s patterns, and more importantly, trying to predict it. And now here it is, a blog for comparing the weather between cities. (This is riveting, don’t lie.)

When we travel, the weather suddenly becomes even more of a novelty. It becomes less predictable, and more noteworthy. It colours the day; and give tone, and mood to your holiday snaps. The weather will most certainly be different to where you have come from, and quite often, is the very reason for traveling in the first place. It will determine what you do and wear you go. What you wear, what you eat. How you sleep. If you sleep.

Traveling to northern hemisphere in Winter, has caused for much questioning and wonder on the behalf of most. As far as I am concerned, Winter is beautiful. I think this in Sydney, I think this in New York, I think this in London. I will think this in San Francisco, and I am sure I will do so traveling through Europe. I love rainy days. Everything feels fresher afterwards. The wind has a similar effect on me. As far as I am concerned, if it is cold, I can always dress warmer. If it is too hot, I can only remove layers to a certain extent, before I get arrested for indecent exposure. And there are only so many ice-creams and refreshing cocktails that can be consumed before one gets too fat to remove said clothes, without the scorn and ridicule of the general public. So anyway, off that tangent and back to Winter. Who doesn’t find the possibility of snow exciting? I don’t think I will ever get sick of snow. There is something so magical, so enchanting about. Standing outside, as the snow falls down upon you. Its amazing. So are the newspaper headlines, that promise for a white Christmas.

The light is different here in Winter. Everything looks that little bit more atmospheric. Especially when the sun doesn’t seem to fully rise until after 11am, and sets prior to 4 in the afternoon. Even at 10 in the morning, it looks as though it should be late afternoon, on a wintery afternoon in Sydney. It’s very disorienting when you try to keep track of the time. Or what day it is, for that matter. I have never been good at keeping track of that at the best of times, but that’s what being on holiday is all about really. Once you stop trying to quantify and regiment things, just relinquish your hold, you will be fine. Time is relative, after all. After struggling to grasp time for a few days, I have gradually stopped checking my phone for the time. For the first time in years, I look at my phone less then maybe, 4 times a day. It still often surprises me by what time it says, but not so much now.

What else can I say about the weather in London? Well, it kinda reminds me of the Blue Mountains really. This comparison creeps me out a little. But it is similar, in it’s sheer unpredictability and changeability. Yesterday, visiting the Tower of London, the day started off as a warm sunny morning, the warmest yet; hazy at first, but clearing. Within about an hour or arriving, the day had become bitter and grey, the sharp wind, biting bare skin, whipping off the Thames. Then out of nowhere, it starts pouring with rain, even though I could see blue sky just near us. Within a minute or 2, the rain becomes snow. Having been lulled into a false sense of security about the temperature that morning, we were hideously underdressed for the turn of weather, and flee inside, only to return outdoors within minutes, to find it has all passed. It is still freezing, but now looks like twilight, during the middle of the day. And you know what, tomorrow will probs be completely different.

But I still love Winter.

Ye Olde London Town.

16 Dec

So London, huh?

For the majority of my life, I have dreamt of coming to London, wondered when, and how, who with, what for, and why. It has always drawn me, for a myriad of reasons. For the history, the fashion, the proximity to Europe, the accents. Lots of other reasons too, I guess. When I travel, I dream of finding that one place in the world, that so resolutely feels more like home to me then anywhere else. Somewhere where everything will click, and suddenly make sense. I suppose I have spent a long time wondering, if London could be that place.

In the few days I have been here, I have to say I have fallen in love with this city. It’s beautiful. I always wonder why people come to Australia, and now I have to question that even more so. Sydney is a village. Sydney is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but the six degrees of separation, is actually about three. London’s population however, is only slightly less then that of the entire of Australia. Put it into context people!

Walking the streets of London, I can’t help but be struck by how old everything is. There is a real sense of history throughout the city, that Australia couldn’t possibly ever hope to rival. England, is, I suppose, the motherland, of our dear nation. Being here though, certain things about Australia make more sense. And you begin to realise the full extent to which things in Oz are named after things that already exist in Inger-land. Nothing is original. And apparently nothing is sacred either. But being here, it feels more like home, then being in New York ever did, or could. I find it amazing that three nations, England, Australia and America, so inextricably linked once, sharing the same origin, speaking the same language, could, over a few hundred years, become so culturally distinct and diverse from one another. And the differences are marked.

When you leave Australia, it is easier to comprehend the notion of the global community. You see how interconnected the rest of the world is. Everything you buy, has been made or grown somewhere equally as exotic as where you stand. Egypt, Romania, The Czech Republic. When you are in Australia, everything has been made in Australia, or China. As a country, we apparently value our independence, and are trying to be a self-reliant as possible. Almost a bit stubbornly, really. But in a way, it has paid off. GFC? We weren’t hit nearly as bad as anywhere else. They are still feeling the crunch here, yet at home we are pretty much in the clear, proof be seen in raising interest rates.

And while I’m not sure quite yet, if London is that place, where everything suddenly feels right, I certainly know that it is a place I already feel sad to have to leave. Overall though, London is a very easy city to be in. Maybe this is because of our historically strong link towards our founding nation, maybe not. But it’s easy to absorb. Easy to stumble upon things. London accents are very easy to aquire. Tube’s are frequent and easy to catch. Oh- and pounds are very easy to spend!

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