Friday, 30 April 2010

April? Did anyone see April?

... It must have run off with the end of March. Bloody hell it's been a while and if the year keeps up at this rate, never mind 30, I'll be 45 before I've even had time to get a haircut.

I had visions of myself, finally, having now the time and the headspace (and the internet connection), sitting down on my new sofa in my new house to catch up on the last six weeks. Only, well.... my sofa, delivered this morning.... currently looks like this:

Not so helpful. And I, thanks to a busy stretch of time that has involved a family visit, graduation, a brief sojourn to Madrid for Easter, an emotional flying visit home, an exhausting but timely return to London (read: four hours before they closed the airports because of the Eidgkjfgkhgjyeuruejk volcano), some house-hunting, some house-finding, some nannying, my part-time retail job, my internship and a last minute job application, well, I currently look like this:

One of my nannying charges was kind enough to volunteer this portrait (I think peeved because I was unrelenting on bedtime) and scarily this was BEFORE the aforementioned symphony of distracting, energy-sapping, emotion-sapping events. And I haven't even mentioned the Ikea trip with LB and a fresh bout of jetlag in tow. It's not an altogether unflattering portrait but for the ever-so-subtle dark rings captured so delicately under my eyes. Sigh. Thank god for Yves.

Current status: tired but O.K. LB and I moved in together two weeks ago, indeed two days after I got back to London, and so far playing house in the Love Nest (as christened by LB's boss) has been lovely and for the first time since moving to London I feel like I have a home. And to be honest, LB is coping remarkably well with my need to faff and fluff pillows and generally just get my Susie home maker on.

LB would say leaving east London I've left the dark side but I'm not so sure. We're now in Hammersmith, right by the Thames and I concede it is lovely - and if wearing big necklaces is all it takes to be edgy in west London then I ain't complaining. Edgy in east London requires a mix of emo-retro-mothball insouciance that I could never quite master. Shame.

Where we are in Hammersmith is literally two minutes from the famous River Cafe and all that stands between us and the river is a gorgeous pub with a beer garden that has Summer Sunday afternoons written all over it.

It isn't Bondi but it isn't bad either. And now that Spring has sprung and the days are getting longer and the weather warmer (in theory at least...) there is a sense of optimism - and relief - in the air. I love Spring. More than Summer even. LB made the astute observation that Spring is like a Friday - or a Saturday morning - full of promise and the start of good things to come. Summer, or London's version of it, is like a Sunday afternoon. Gone too quickly and tainted with the quiet dread of Monday. For now though, it is cherry blossoms and magnolia trees and twilight so let's focus on that.

When Mum and Soph were here a month ago it was still coat and scarf weather, despite pathetic bouts of occasional sunshine. It was so lovely to have them both here and such a fun week, full of girly shopping trips and delicious lunches and long chats about Everything. Oh, and my graduation. A bittersweet affair given the still sensitive subject of results but it meant the world to me to have Mum and Sophie there, especially with Nan being at home, and LB beside them looking handsome in his not oft worn suit. Graduation was at St. George's Church in Hanover Square. A pretty beautiful location and certainly a step up from the Clancy auditorium at UNSW.....

I didn't really have time, or see much value, in being too sad about the departure of my girls, given that I was going to be back in Sydney 10 days later but it was such a great time with them and LB was an excellent honorary girl. In a very masculine way of course. Among the many mini-adventures we all had was a day trip to Hampstead for an amble through the heath and a boozy lunch and a trip to Richmond to Petersham Nurseries for another long lunch, something we've all now come to specialise in. Petersham Nurseries in particular was such a lovely setting - in the greenhouse, among the plants:

Cu-te. Highlights were definately the rose-infused champagne and LB's slab of cheese dessert. Oh. My. God.

Heading to Madrid for Easter, a trip that we were meant to take with the parentals before matriarchal illness changed plans, food was, perhaps unsurprisingly, never far from our minds and our four days there were spent wandering about the city, talking a lot about great tapas that we never seemed to find and eating a lot of jamon. Madrid is a beautiful city - despite LB's dubiousness about the point of inland cities - though I think Barcelona is the more dynamic, passionate, interesting city. And not just because it's on the coast. Because we were there over Easter we kept running into spooky parades with penitents dressed like some perverted combination of a Klan member and a Wiggle - think pointy hats in red, green and blue. Throw in some pounding drums and life size replicas of Christ on the cross and you have a rather disconcerting environment to find yourself in while scoffing Portuguese tarts.

I loved the Reina Sofia Museum, the junk market (where I spotted a rather rusty looking chastity belt amongst other things), the gardens and the impromptu street frescoes. A random collection of highlights....

Getting back from Madrid I had a couple of days at the gallery before I flew home. I was gone exactly a week but with travelling and time differences and what would be a 12-hour stopover in Dubai, I had exactly four days at home. Crazy really but I'm so glad I went. I don't think Nan wanted an epic goodbye, washed down in tears and there was only one moment where I really fell apart. Instead, it was crosswords and laughter and family gossip and cuddles.

I'm doing my best attempt to be 'boy' about it all at the moment - trying not to think too much about it because when I do I just burst into tears. It's really hard not being at home at times like these and I miss everyone so much, just the comforts of history and love and security that come with a family as fabulous as mine. Regular phone conversations with the grandmama help but I'm not much into this mortality thing, nor the thought of my family without her. So my gratitude for brothers and mothers who could get me home knows no bounds. And the Grandmother, in her infinite wisdom, wants me to be in London, with my LB, chasing my ridiculous dreams of art world success and her genuine crankiness at me should I not be here doesn't bear thinking about. It doesn't mean that I don't want to be at home though.

Beating the volcanic ash back to London by a mere four hours, with LB-as-sherpa meeting me at Gatwick, I had a day at the gallery on Friday before two men and a truck moved me and my worldly belongings to Hammersmith. Screw lugging boxes with an economy seat-induced bad back, a shocking case of time zone warp and the emotional grit of a soft boiled egg. Uh, no.

Surviving that night on a shit-awful mattress on a bed frame so ugly you couldn't give it away, LB and I thus began Playing House with a strong consensus to chuck the mattress and a well-considered list of measurements and furniture requirements for our next day date to Ikea.

After five hours at Ikea we went to Clapham and officially moved LB out. Working into the night, LB building furniture, me creating miracles in the world of storage where there is none, Monday was a day of industry and exhaustion. Tuesday, depleted of adrenaline and sleep, began with overdue tears. And since then it has been about quiet nights and cooking and soon, some lazy afternoons on a sofa in the Spring sunshine that streams through our front window. Bliss.

Today is my first day of Nothing in I don't remember how long. I've cleaned the bathroom and I'm about to bake a cake and then I might have a nap with my book. This weekend I am nannying (no doubt more portraits to come) but I plan to try and get some work done on my website in between breaking up fights and making toasted sandwiches. It's not quite the same skill set as required of an Assistant Curator at the National Portrait Gallery so I omitted them from the application I put in yesterday but you never know, a secret set of skills with the Breville sandwich maker might just be what they're looking for.

Here's to a less chaotic May.

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