Friday, May 6, 2011

Oh to be in England now that Spring is here

Ah, London in the spring. Pollen in the air and stuck at the back of your throat, wind whipping your hair faster than that precocious Willow's, and long Bank Holiday weekends just tailormade for drinking shandies and yomping across Hampstead Heath.

I love it. Look how pretty it is:
The sky above Courthope Road at 8pm

Ceanthus. Very North London.

Some lucky git's town house.

Bluebells on the Heath.

Regent's Park

 (For more of London's lovely parks, check out this nice lady's blog)

The other thing I love is for once, having the luxury of time. I'm here for a whole indulgent week.

Far too often I land in London about 2 days before I leave. You do the math... It usually results in what TLOML and I call 'the Salt House free-for-all'. This is where I email all but 3 of my London-based mates and instruct them all to come to the Salt House for a catch up and drinks and their excellent fish and chips. I leave out the 3 because I'm disorganised with distribution lists and keeping email addresses up-to-date. The uninvited 3 hear on the grapevine that we are in town, and doing the Salt House free-for-all, and they are miffed that they weren't on the distribution list... but luckily for us, come along anyway. I tend to keep it fresh by making it a different 3 every time.

The Salt House free-for-all is brilliant. Lots of dear friends show up, and we shout reunion news and trivia at each other, and what it lacks in quality it more than makes up for in quantity. An unexpected bonus of the Salt House free-for-all is that many of TLOML's friends have got to know mine pretty well simply through showing up at these drinking sessions on a fairly regular basis over the past couple of years. I suspect some of my mates show up for the chance to see his mates (one of whom has an exceptionally handsome dog who is always the star of the show) rather than little ol' me.
The Salt House. Nice place for a free-for-all

Outside of the Free-for-all, I am lucky if I get a quiet drink or bite in with a couple of very close friends, before heading back out again. I spend my whole time in a cab texting whoever I'm on my way to see to tell them I am running late. It's an exercise in frustration and I hate to admit but has made me start to limit the number of friends I try to see. A NY-based British friend of mine admitted that he started to find trips to visit his folks in Wimbledon so stressful that he started keeping them a secret from his London mates.

What's been amazing about this trip is that I have had quality face time with some of my most brilliant mates. I've roamed from NW8 to N1  - including daily drop ins to NW5, to see my Wondertwin and talk colour blocking while she wrestles her incredibly cute incredibly wriggly wonderchild. I've caught buses and taken long walks and read the Metro on the tube. I've had morning coffees, al fresco lunches, afternoon drinks and chilled out dinners. And most of all, lots of good solid chat, for days on end. Bliss!

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