This past bank holiday weekend also saw the celebration of my birthday, which gave me the excuse to take an extra day, Tuesday, off work to make the longest birthday weekend ever. Or at least the longest one I’ve gotten away with in recent memory.
Sunday I shared a fun birthday party with a friend who was also celebrating her birthday (which was a day before mine) in a pub with one of my favourite beers on draft, and I got to chat with some good friends. Oh, and I had the biggest Yorkshire pudding from a pub Sunday roast I’d ever had.
I awoke the following morning to see a trail of post-it notes, and the first one I noticed was this one:
To the two involved in this fantastic morning discovery: bless ye. I shall also say that this bottle didn’t last much past noon, having dutifully woken up my friends to quaff my birthday gift (which was delicious). If you haven’t woken up and popped open a bottle of bubbles, well, you’re missing out.
Unless, you know, you’re not into alcohol.
On my birthday, I wound up going to Notting Hill Carnival for the first time living in London. Interestingly, I’ve been in town for every Carnival since 2009–I flew in my first year+ right before the bank holiday, and I had flown back to London in 2011, as my last post illustrated, in mid-August. For whatever reasons–my distaste for crowds, a looming dissertation, some sort of East London prejudice that West London is strange and disorienting, not knowing London full stop–I hadn’t gone in any year previous to this. This year, I felt like I *had* to go, because if my post-study work visa expires and I don’t have a sponsor, that’s it. So, if I was going to go, I had to go this weekend. And I happened to go on my birthday.
Which was absolutely fantastic, mostly because of my friend whom I went with, the friend who I met there and this:
Gladdy Wax. Y’all just don’t know.
(And if you don’t know, you should read my friend Tim’s excellent interview. Do it.)
I got home in the early evening, my ears ringing and my body exhausted after dancing for something like three hours straight. It was definitely two hours straight at least. I had such a good time, I hope to be up near the top of Portobello Road next year.
Tuesday, while most of London went back to work (unless they continued to be on holiday), I was deliciously idle for the most part during the day. I had an appointment that meant I needed to be in Holborn in the afternoon, but after that, I walked over to Salt for a cup of coffee and to get a good start on the latest book I’m reading. If you’re unfamiliar with the book, I suggest you must visit Spitalfields Life after you’re finished reading this silly post. You simply must.
To me, there is nothing more luxurious than being idle, and I spent a good while reading The Gentle Author’s book and watching people walk past, to and from Holborn and Covent Garden. I overheard the conversations around me, particularly the amusing folks sitting at the other end of the picnic table outside, and mused to myself about nothing in particular. It was wonderful. Everyone needs to have some time spent like that, being deliciously idle.
As I walked towards London Bridge where I was to meet someone, I took photographs along the Embankment and the north bit of the river. As I neared Millennium Bridge, I noticed some people along the river’s bank, walking on the rocky shore. I also noticed steps leading down.
Despite wearing not the right shoes to go mudlarking in, I set off down the stairs and marvelled at being able to touch the water of the Thames with my fingers, the shells, the rocks, the bricks and the many, many bits of porcelain. Before I could really think about it, I became a child again, but instead of picking up sea shells as I did on beaches in South Carolina, Florida or Okinawa, I was picking up pieces of porcelain–particularly ones with snippets of a blue design, as I’m fond of such things when they are intact. While looking down among the rocks and mud, I thought about what these pieces of porcelain might have held and who they may have belonged to, what role they had in someone’s everyday life.
Although the trip was a brief foray, and I hardly found anything that’s particularly sought after, I was very pleased with my first little mudlarking experience, although if I want to do it properly it is best to go with someone else if you’re going to be really doing some digging around for safety reasons. I hope to explore the shores of the Thames again soon, before the weather gets too cold, for more glimpses into previous existences.
Along with much drink to be had in the form of beer and brilliant cocktails from Ruby’s, including my much-beloved sazerac which is now quite possibly my favourite cocktail, I have had a top weekend to mark the general end of summer, unless the capricious English weather decides to surprise us with a bit of August heat in November as it did last year.
But here we are, in these waning days of August, with the autumn wind shaking the green leaves off the trees, whispering to them before they, inevitably, will take on the shades of fire and sunlight and scatter to the ground sooner than we in London can possibly perceive. I must admit that, after living in subtropical and tropical climates for over half my life, I do enjoy the fall. The crunch of the leaves, the colours, the crispness of the air, the reassuring warmth of the wool on your coat–it’s nice.
Though I suppose my housemate and I should get crackin’ on the bottle of Pimm’s we have before autumn moves in.