Time Travel

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An autumn walk, Regent’s Park, November 2015.

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Matt, home in west London, winter 2015.

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Daffodils, home in west London, January 2016.

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Winter fuchsias, west London, February 2015.

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Ashley, Soho, February 2016.

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Cable car, Singapore, May 2016.

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Greenery, Singapore, June 2016.

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Happy steps, Singapore, June 2016.

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Charlotte’s hen party, Cambridge, June 2016.

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Wildflowers, Regent’s Park, August 2016.

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‘Strawberry shortcake’ roses, Regent’s Park, August 2016.

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Connor, Regent’s Park, August 2016.

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Matt, the secret garden, August 2016.

A year’s worth of 35mm film, just developed. The best kind of time travel I know.

Bright Spots | Week Thirty-Three

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The rain, heavy and thundering. Gelato on the streets of Camden Town. A blustery weekend with a full house at the Crescent. Our cosy flat, new rug in pride of place. Autumn on the wind. A Sunday supper of soy salmon and greens. My current read, started in a bookshop one lunch, bought by my Matt for me after I rhapsodised about its merits (oh, sweet boy who buys me books – you’re more than I ever dreamed.) Saturday’s picnic in the secret garden. Showing off the city to our favourite Americans. Japanese anemones, everywhere, all of a sudden. The patience of friends. Our ripening tomatoes. Campanula in the window box. The impending three-day weekend, and an escape to the country. Blackberries and rhubarb, freshly picked, stirred into yoghurt. Slow-cooked granola. The Columbia Road flower market, vendors hurling slang. Bike rides and swim dates. Change, just around the bend.

Singapore | Part I

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At the very start of the summer I flew across Europe, the familiar arable landscapes of western Europe shifting gradually to countries further east than I had ever seen. We veered southeast, cruising over the vast steppes of Asia before soaring across the width of India (oh, such bright and unending celestial skyscapes I have never seen before nor since!) The plane swooped down over the Indian Ocean, hugging the coast of Thailand, then Malaysia, finally landing on a clear, moist night at Changi Airport. My parents greeted me in the arrivals hall, glimpsing the pair of us through a glass screen before they could embrace us. By the time we had retrieved our cases and hailed a taxi, the sky was already tinged with the first mauve of dusk. The twisting limbs of jacaranda trees lined the roads towards the city, a snatch of pale blue sea visible through their braided spines. The air was thick and humid, heavy with the scent of jasmine and frangipane. Already my preconceptions were knocked clear from my head – the visions I’d harboured of Singapore as a bleak, aseptic state smudged clean in a moment.

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Only now, as the season is ending, do I feel the sudden impulse to write about it all. What we saw, what we ate, what we sniffed on the breeze. I’d planned to write theses while I was there, packed notebooks and pens wholesale, but almost as soon as I landed, my mind (and nose) were struck dumb by an unflagging cold that knocked the words right from my head. So here I am, ten weeks later, picking up the pieces, attempting to document and remember. More to come. Soon.

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Poem For The Weekend #55

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I want to grow old with you.
Old, old.

So old we pad through the supermarket
using the shopping cart as a cane that steadies us.

I’ll wait at register two in my green sweater
with threadbare elbows, smiling
because you’ve forgotten the bag of day-old pastries.

The cashier will tell me a joke about barbers as I wait.
He repeats the first line three times
but the only word I understand is barber.

Over the years we’ve caught inklings
of our shrinking frames and hunched spines.

You’re a little confused
looking for me at the wrong register with a bag
of almost-stale croissants clenched in your hand.

The first time I held your hand it felt enormous in my own.
Sasquatch, I teased you, a million years ago.

Over here, I yell, but not in a mad way.

We’re laughing.
You have a bright yellow pin on your coat that says, Shalom!

Senior Discount, you say.
But the cashier already knows us.
We’re everyone’s favorite customers.

– Ali Liebegott

Bright Spots | Week Thirty-Two

Twelve things I loved about this weekend:

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One. Friday night, part i: street food (moong dal dosa for her, chicken satay for him – after much deliberation) washed down with a cone of Eton Mess ice-cream. (Haven’t tried it? You haven’t lived.)
Two. Friday night, part ii: a late night swan around Switch House, the new extension to the Tate Modern. Visit the Living Cities exhibit (4th floor) for get your brain whirring, then high-tail it to the roof terrace for a glimpse of sunset.
Three. A propagation lesson, in the late Saturday sunlight, with my grandfather. Cross your fingers my hydrangea shoot takes.
Four. Olympics everything. Who knew a card-carrying Europhile could be so enthusiastic about the successes of team GB in a post-Brexit world?
Five. Freshly baked white chocolate-chip cookies eaten standing up, gooey from the oven, in Grandma’s kitchen.
Six. Lunch on board a boat, anchored opposite Victoria, with a dear friend not seen in too long.
Seven. Rising early Saturday to volunteer – and afterwards, walking towards Westminster in the early light, oft-bustling streets still mostly empty.
Eight. A Saturday afternoon run on the best suburban charity shops – emerging triumphant with a stripe dress, battered leather loafers and an assortment of glass jars. The thrill is in the chase.
Nine. Visiting our family’s sweet little tabby cat, my grandfather’s shadow.
Ten. Iced coffee in bed on a slow Sunday morning, gearing up to pick August’s glut of blackberries and rhubarb in the back garden.
Eleven. The city in August, quieter somehow, more considered.
Twelve. Bruce Springsteen. Everywhere, all the time.