Monday, 9 May 2011

Pinch me moments and friends from home.

I worked out today it's 32 weeks until LB and I fly home to Sydney and the thought rather depressed me as it feels like SO FAR AWAY. Probably, well, because it is. I also calculated it's 10 days until we leave for Greece so I really should try and keep things in perspective but it's Mother's Day in Australia today and I've been thinking about home, and mothers, grandmothers and family generally, A LOT. So thank god for a phone plan that gives me 800 international minutes a month. You know who you are and you know how much I love you.

Sentiment mine but signage courtesy of Southbank
I sound flat, I'm really not, just philosophical as I think about work, career, marriage, living overseas and that thing called a life plan and feel, for the first time in a really long time, reasonably calm that It Will All Work Out. One way or another.

I've struggled to enjoy work this last week. A lack of confidence hasn't helped, nor have external politics and the pressure of a ridiculously stressful deadline but on Friday I was the only one in the office and I managed to get quite a lot done so I'm hoping this week will be constructive and exciting. No pressure.

More bunting love...
One of the highlights of work last week though was a meeting at Tate Britain. Not so much the meeting itself but the walk I took from my exercise class in Covent Garden to the gallery. I walked through Trafalgar Square and then down Whitehall, with a quick detour to cop a look at all the flags still decorating the Mall, past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Silly me, being early, thought I might swing past and stick my head in the door of the Abbey so I could gape at all the beautiful trees and flowers still in situ from The Wedding. Not a chance in hell of making my meeting with a line that looked like this:

On Thursday I had Another 'pinch me' moment after Another meeting, this time on Southbank. My love of bunting has been discussed elsewhere but I so love all the signage around the Royal Festival Hall for the Festival of Britain. I also fell a little bit in love with this work by Gitta Gschwendtner, called The Lion and Unicorn, after the Lion and Unicorn Pavilion from the 1951 Festival. Fifty years ago the Pavilion was designed to show who the British people were, largely to the British people themselves and part of that pavilion was a flight of ceramic birds designed to symbolise migration and freedom of speech.

Gitta Sschwendtner, The Lion and Unicorn, Southbank, 2011
Gschwendtner's work is an ephemeral homage to this work and the result of a collaboration with a number of young people from refugee groups across London. She asked them to write poems that explored ideas of strength and imagination and then re-cast their written poems not as birds but paper aeroplanes. While some thoughts were thus 'set free', the others fluttered in the wind as part of a sculptural installation, where you could go up and read the poems or listen as pre-recorded readings were played. It was just so beautiful, both in its fragility and its power and I felt so heartened by the encounter, the more so because it was so accidental. The metaphorical potential for this work, visually, politically and poetically is just breathtaking.

And from one lovely encounter I headed for another as at home waiting for me was LB and a dear friend from home, Bec, making her debut on British soil. Bec and her sister had arrived on Wednesday and being a working girl these days I had barely had a chance to see her. Thankfully she came to stay and we've had three lovely nights of catching up, talking friends from home, talking weddings, travel and all about London.  

On Friday night we decided that a quintessential London night was needed and so we went east, for a drink at the so-cool-if-it-wasn't-in-Shoreditch-it-would-be-in-Melbourne Commercial Tavern, with its fabulous wallpapers, light fittings and not so fabulous loud music. From here we went to Brick Lane for some Indian and introduced Bec to the cultural delight that is getting seduced or harassed, depending on your temperament, by the smooth talkers touting every restaurant along the strip. One even had hologram business cards. 

Interiors upstairs at the Commercial Tavern.
Brick Lane... Yes there really are bricks.
After too much naan bread and just enough wine to make us sleepy we headed home with a plan to tackle Borough the next day. Which we did, via a button shop on Marylebone Lane so I could replace the admittedly ugly buttons on the trench LB calls my flasher coat. I take such comments as a reassuring sign of his heterosexuality and frankly of all the fashion crimes I could be committing, there are worse out there. Much Worse. (And n.b. I'm not the only one who thinks so. The very clever Amy Sly came up with this handy chart for the Huffpost and I feel it's my social responsibility to share it here:)

By Amy Sly and first seen here

But back to Borough. Being a sort-of-sunny Saturday and frankly, simply Saturday, the market was rammed but we nonetheless successfully navigated our way past every cheese stall with a tasting plate and over a lunch of burgers (mine halloumi, LBB's duck and Bec's lamb) we came up with a menu for dinner that night. Slow cooked leg of lamb and roasted beets, asparagus and vine tomatoes. With Portuguese tarts for dessert. A large part of the recipe's appeal was the three hours it would take to cook, which gave us three hours for Pimms at the pub while the house filled with the intoxicating smell of lamb, mint and garlic. It was seriously delicious. 
Sitting under Southwark Cathedral.
Food already consumed by this point.
The fruits of our shopping labour.
Today we've done zero. Bec left for the non-London parts of the UK to visit her mum and LB and I have dossed about the house, cleaning, TV watching, Thailand googling (honeymoon anyone?) and generally trying not to think about the five day week ahead. It's been awhile since we've had one of those. Spring it may be but holidays it isn't. At least not until next week.


tori said...

I'm putting in an order for that lamb next time we come around :) xxxx

Jo said...

I think it's safe to say you can call that one in any time you like! :-) xxx