Monday, 31 August 2015

This Summer

Try as I might to deny it (I've officially gone into hibernation mode and have barely moved for two days), the summer holiday is coming to an end and reality is looming. 

It's an odd feeling, the end of a 6 week break. I really wish it wasn't so long to be honest because I actually like, nay, love my job but when you're away from routine for so long, even returning to a job you love seems ominous. Right now, I'd rather not anyway.

I've been quiet a while, I know. And it wasn't because I wasn't doing lots to write about but I went home for a few days which was then followed by a constant stream of friends staying and visiting and I could hardly retire for an hour or so to write when I was required instead to entertain. I enjoyed it too! I made that sound like a chore which it wasn't at all. It was nice to finally socialise after what has generally been a pretty solitary summer.

This summer's been a strange one. In one sense it's been exactly what I expected it to be. In another, it hasn't. I think the hasn't part is simply because there's been so little sunshine. And I'm not just being a drama queen; even Monty Don agrees that this summer has been incredibly cold and dim (his tomatoes just haven't done well this year). While we may have had a reasonable amount of sunshine, we have been lacking in sunny days. I can't highlight a day when it's been sunny from morning 'til night. 

So I have done what I set out to do which was to 'make the most of being in London'. But I think I was hoping to have better weather for it. And I do feel ungrateful really because the weather's at least been good enough to go out almost every day, but I am a self-confessed sun worshipper. It makes me happy. 

Despite a lack of sunshine, this year I have still made plenty of delightful discoveries and have definitely become more closely acquainted with the city in which I live. I've managed not to spend an excessive amount of money, I've read three books (and am now onto my fourth), I've taken lots of beautiful photos and collected many a memory and story to tell. Maybe I've been a little antisocial and maybe my tan's not as on point as it is most years, but I hope I've still made the most of my time.

Having not written now in over 2 weeks, I'm absolutely not going to try to squash the latter third of my holiday into one elongated post (although yes, it's likely that this is going to be a little longer than the last few). Instead, I shall share the highlights and a few words about each.

Firstly, as promised, the Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings. An evening full of beautiful company, beautiful food & beautiful cocktails in a seriously beautiful setting! This is literally what I want my dining area in my own home way in the future to look like; all the glass, greenery & pretty furniture!

That's a Scandinavian school opposite. I'm pretty sure it's private, and it's in Central London so it's not really at all appealing, but I must admit I was intrigued.

The following day I headed to Camden. I decided to walk from Kings Cross along the canal to make the most of the weather as it had rained the day before and was meant to rain later on as well. In Camden I got a feather in my hair, bought rings & drank tea. Pure bliss.

Even on a grey day, I love to be by water. Reflections always look beautiful, no matter what the sky is doing and actually, even raindrops falling into water is (are?) one of my favourite things.

Eastbourne Airbourne was a brilliant day out. The sun tried its hardest to shine for displays from some of my absolute favourite planes, we had a picnic (from a proper hamper), ate ice cream and fully immersed ourselves in the eccentricities of air shows.

I was going to take video footage of the Chinook to show my children as I really got them into these beauties this year... then had that ever so slightly depressing moment when you remember you have a new class in September. 

So glad I got to see the Vulcan in her last flight season.

The Blades are an acrobatic team of serious skill. Apparently they take passengers... watch this space!

There is a plane up there somewhere? One of my favourite things about home is getting to see Typhoons flying over all the time. But let's face it, they are definitely their most impressive in show.

Red Arrows never fail to put on a good show! Back in 2003 I sat in the cockpit of a Red Arrow at the Eastbourne air show and seriously swooned. Not much has changed.

I think we suffered from heat or sun stroke (or both) as on Sunday we felt incredibly peculiar and after movement in the morning, surrendered ourselves to duvets on the sofa for the rest of the day. Then, the next day I headed home for some Norfolk respite. I did try to do some writing on my train journey but, my goodness, is it rickety. It was not a success and thus, I haven't got back to it until now. Whoops.

After an afternoon relaxing in the garden and a seriously tasty dinner, Dad suddenly called us upstairs. Sunsets from my bedroom window take some beating.

'Lynn Lumiere' is actually getting pretty impressive. I've seen the light shows on the Customs House many a time, but those on the 'Minster' as it is now known, or St Margaret's to the commoners amongst us, were particularly 'wow'! We were joined on our walking tour of them by a tipsy Irishman visiting the town. Only in Lynn.

After two days of rain, the sun really did shine and we headed to the beach to make the most of it. Four Typhoons continuously flying overhead and dogs running amok provided plenty to entertain. We did brave the sea for a moment but it was even to cold for me to go in beyond my ankles! Another picnic straight from a hamper followed by Norfolk Lavender for lavender tea and scones made for a very satisfied me.

Nothing beats the garden at home.

Back to London and visits from friends began! Having had such a wonderful time discovering some magical places, these visits provided great opportunities to share some of my favourites. The first port of call was Holland Park, seeing as the sun was actually shining!

Unlike last time when there was some James Bond-esque filming going on, this time the rose garden was open and boy is it pretty both in terms of sight and smell!

I've only seen photos of this pub before but now I actually know where it is! 
We didn't go in but one day I will.

Sunshine (and serious heat) continued the next day. So we obviously had to brunch outside! The Grain Store was the location of choice with its tasty food, colourful drinks and a very sweet outdoor seating area.

Having been desperate for sunny days, we were then desperate to find some shade so headed to Camley Street Natural Park, a find from last summer. Spot the terrapins!

On Sunday morning, the clouds made their return and so did our umbrellas. We began the day with the 11 o'clock service at Westminster Abbey then continued on to Kensington for lunch before a Prom performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra (and the most entertaining conductor) at the Royal Albert Hall.

More rain. So a day of being touristy was restricted to being indoors. At £9 each, we really nursed our mocktails (seriously, £9 for no alcohol!?) at Aqua Shard, taking in the view for a couple of hours in the dry before it was totally enveloped by rain clouds.

And so the theme continues. One thing I will say is that I've become much better at finding rainy day activities and ways to brighten my mood when the weather's bringing me down. I was taken to Camden Garden Centre which I loved. I was also incredibly well behaved and didn't make any plant purchases, although I did invest in a new pot for my beloved cactus and some secateurs for proper pruning purposes.

We were only planning to stay for tea in the adorable café but the lunch menu just looked so good!

Ok as I come to each of these days I can see why I'm slightly depressed at this end of the holiday. Another way to beat the rainy day blues? Visit a National Trust property. Tucked away in Hackney, Sutton House is the oldest house to be found in the borough. Quite sad really, when not even the whole house survives. But it's a sweet place and had some nice art in a gallery upstairs too!

After Sutton House we went to find somewhere for tea and came across the Pacific Social Club. I will now not be satisfied unless my fresh mint tea comes with a cocktail umbrella and plastic bamboo stirrer (but also a teaspoon, just in case).

From the perfect fresh mint tea to a big box of Krispy Kremes (I've never had twelve before. Incredibly exciting!) Food and drink are always a good cheer up!

As the weather decided to take a slightly more positive turn (still no sun, but at least the rains came to a halt), I decided to get out and about like the beginning of the holiday and tick off a few more places on my summer To Do list. First stop, Ebury Square Gardens in Victoria where I spied some truly unusual and beautiful architecture.

Next stop, The Phoenix Garden. A peaceful haven literally just behind Shaftesbury Avenue. 

Impromptu visit to Covent Garden to see the 100 000 balloons installed there by French artist Charles Pétillon. I thought I was being wise by visiting on a Friday as opposed to at the weekend but we only discovered after the event that lights inside them 'pulse' so I guess I'd better go back in the dark.

Garden stop 3. Postman's Park by St Paul's. This photo sort of shows The Watts Memorial, commemorating the lives of normal people who lost their own trying to save others. I was also slightly intrigued by what can only be described as the pile of headstones laying beside it.

Although I'd hoped to return home again for the bank holiday weekend, various obstacles made such a visit unlikely so instead I managed to persuade Ma and Pa to visit me! They were under the impression that train tickets were hundreds of pounds, but with my thetrainline app, I was there to save the day.

The sun finally had his hat on again and as they came into Kings Cross, that's where we began our day. After Barbican, Kings Cross is fast becoming my second favourite part of London and that was before I'd even discovered what we found. Thank goodness my parents are just as curious as me!

A great day for a dip in the natural swimming pond! We didn't, we just admired it at a safe distance from the Viewing Platform.

There's a Skip Garden! Who knew? New favourite London garden?

Next, I took them to Camley Street and yet again, they opened my eyes to another dimension. On many occasions I have walked along the temporary towpath and admired a seating area on the other side of the canal. Well, this photo is taken from that very seating area because it turns out that if you go down the stairs, they take you here, not to what I've always thought was a storage shed!

From Kings Cross we took the towpath to Camden for lunch where Mum and Dad finally got themselves Oysters (all the excitement) which they then used to get to Hampstead. I showed them the Hill Garden & Pergola but not before we'd gone down various alleyways and interestingly named streets and ended up having drinks at Burgh House Museum. I love my parents!

Today (and yesterday, although it wasn't actually raining then, just grim), I have sheltered from the rain on the sofa with a candle and a cup of tea. Cosy reading days are surely really meant for the Christmas holiday but nevertheless I've enjoyed all of the books that I've read this summer, even if I haven't read them in my bikini on a sun-lounger. It's not over yet, but today felt like the right time to finally catch up on the events of the past couple of weeks. We'll see how much I can squeeze out of the last few days.

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