Belated Bright Spots

You know that feeling of having so much to do you end up doing nothing at all? We’re moving and it’s summer, too, which means weddings and hen parties and visiting family and laze-inducing humidity – and I’m sick with the worst kind of cold (that is to say, all cough and and no respite even after downing Lemsip). But these bright spots have been sitting in my drafts for the best part of a month, and there’s no time like the present, eh? I might be dead next week. Plus this poorly, sniffling blogger could do with a little optimism… 

week 23 | We ran the race for life, ten of us, clad in crimson t-shirts and lace-up shoes. B and I stuck together like glue, plodding along, using the time – just us, two friends, outside of the office – to talk deeply about minds and bodies, hopes and dreams. for the final stretch, we shouted and broke into a sprint, the wind at our backs. I felt invincible. I felt invincible, too, that night when lightning threaded across the London sky and a similar sort of storm brewed on the BBC, the 10’0’clock song of Big Ben in the background – “And what we’re saying is the Conservatives are the largest party. Note, they do not have an overall majority.” Oh, David Dimbleby; oh, my heart. We sat up, then, tiredness turned to racing stomachs, butterflies launched in an instant. I knitted, he paced. We went to Wiltshire that weekend, bodies tired from the excitement and unexpectedness of it all. We went to Wiltshire and walked and walked, among the poppies and the glorious pink roses, glued to Andrew Marr the rest of the time. 

week 24 | My old friend Caroline and her beau visited London, and gave us an excuse to leave the neighbourhood on a weekend (we are OAPs, at heart, truly). It was quite something to look out over the Thames as the sun set, in a part of the city we never go to. I can highly recommend the Midnight Apothecary in Rotherhithe – where else in London can you sip botanical cocktails and toast marshmallows around a campfire, beneath sunflowers and sweet peas and variegated nasturtiums? Week 24 also saw plenty of spins on Sadiq bikes (as I’m calling them these days), a delightful Hally’s brunch, and a heatwave. Not too shabby. 

week 25 | Ben & Jerry’s on the sofa with my mum, reminiscing about family holidays to Boston when I was young, ice-cream sundaes as vast as our faces. So many happy, half-buried childhood memories I am so happy to have. Rhubarb from my grandparents’ suburban garden, stems as thick as a wrist, roots hot pink like fuchsias or the roses swaddled in cellophane outside the station. It was a week of good grub, several hours spent stirring the pot as I flitted, moth-like, between stove, fridge, cupboards and the garden. We dined on lentil bolognese, paprika-laced chilli, rhubarb crumble. I made a batch of my favourite jam, and felt grateful for the free Sunday afternoon to make it. Then there’s my Matt, who irons like a champ, who will run out to get a pint of vanilla ice-cream at a moment’s notice, who praises my cooking like nobody else. Thanks, bud. We eat at the little mint-coloured table and chairs in our garden almost every night, and (aside from the sirens wailing in the distance, and the shouts of nearby neighbours) I almost forget we live in London.

week 26 | Our Monday night tradition – goodness bowls and The Handmaid’s Tale. (even if my hand did slip with the paprika, and the resulting meal was a little less polished than usual… sometimes the mistakes mean more reasons to laugh, and I’m not complaining about that.) Tuesday, dawning grey and overcast – introvert weather. That swim in the Serpentine. The walk I take on rainy lunch-hours, south down the Strand, red buses rolling down the hill like tomatoes, as I tread an imaginary tightrope between office and bookshop. Filling my head with poems, a swim in a deep, dark well of words that makes me feel whole again. 

week 27 | A Friday-evening swim in the Serpentine, just me and the ducks. The realisation I’ll miss London – parts of it. Rescued tomato plants, knocked down by a summer storm but (I hope) all the hardier for it. Unexpected sun, the afternoon turned buttery, like caramel, by the cast of light through trees. Komorebi in notting hill. Taking the bus, my nod to slow living (and how my heart likes it). Aubergine and pea curry. Vintage dresses. Modern dentistry. The NHS. A bowl of olives and a plate of garlic bread on a street corner in bloomsbury, legs tucked beneath us. books and a half-hour to chat on the sofa surrounded by shelves. Lunch hour in a courtyard with an old friend – ten years, now. Cups of tea made by mum.

week 28 | Meeting Melissa, a kindred spirit, and the picture-perfect afternoon we had in the sweltering heat. Tea drinking, cake nibbling, Primrose Hill scaling, rose garden-ing. Then stealing away to France on an early flight for toast on cherry jam, and evening swims, and bike rides aplenty, and supermarket runs.