Sunday, 17 July 2016

London life 1

We've been here for three weeks. It might end up sounding like we've done a ton of stuff; the reality is that most of it has been working, pretty early nights and trying to make plans with people but realising they all have established lives and we're going to need to get ourselves more organised than last minute BBQ invites!

BUT I have done a few London things, and those few things have made me happy and glad to be here:

Listening to music at Campbell's Canal Cafe

This was where I wrote most of the last post; where I took a Zambian friend earlier this year having not seen each other since we were 16, and weirdly enough where I sat with two dear Brighton/uni friends many moons ago on a daytrip to Camden - only to find us all living in London now. Anyways, I like it a lot. Hubby and I went for a stroll on Thursday because miracle of miracles I finished work at a pretty reasonable time. We looked in to see if there was any music going on and joyfully there was a pair playing guitar and singing Brazilian jazz.  Washed down with a gin cocktail. Lovely. I plan to check out their Wednesday open mic night soon.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Next Chapter: London

So we have moved again.

I'm still pulling together the pieces of me that have felt both squeezed and scattered over the past few months, in the stress, pressure, uncertainty and tiredness of moving and a busy season at work and that commute and generally not feeling settled in the place we've been in since September.

So this is more of a selection of reflections that have stuttered out of me over the first two Saturdays in our new home, the first couple of day in ages when the clock and email and to-do list haven't ruled and my body and mind have had an opportunity to slow down.

I still feel a long way from myself, if that makes any sense. My thoughts come clumsy and half formed, eluding definition. But I'm trying to shape them into some form, trying to turn them into stepping stones out of one season and into the next, so that I don't get stuck in the middle for too long. So even though this post keeps subsiding into a shapeless jumble, I'll post it. Because marking the moments is important, isn't it?

There's photos too, because for the first time in ages last weekend I got to go out walking with my camera and no time limit. Last weekend, on the morning of a long long awaited opportunity for a lie in, I of course woke up at 3.30am (why???!!), couldn't get back to sleep and so after watching the remaining episodes of New Girl, I decided to get out in the early morning light and explore our new neighbourhood.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Hope is:

Last weekend we took part in an exhibition along with other artists from Hertfordshire. The theme was Hope and the artwork was displayed in a gorgeous chapel in Harpenden. On the Saturday there were workshops and in the evening there were performances. I shared some poems, including the one below which I wrote for the event. It was such a great day, so inspiring and encouraging to be around hard-working, talented artists. And another reminder of how happy it makes me to perform my poems :-)

Hope is

Hope is:
The smell before the smell of rain coming
One hundred poems before this one
The silence of the morning creeping through an open window
Before the day crowds in

Hope is:
Gritted teeth and binoculars
Checking your inbox at 1am
A pinky promise in the playground - moons ago
Newborn skin

Sunday, 22 May 2016


Letty is my sunshine friend
Shadows shift upon the sight of her
Scents of summer waft in
Her smile is light
Set in face round, bright
Warming the coldest day

And she is generous with it
Backpack on
She braves Bristol
Its hills, its tunes, its pints, its colour, its green
And all its crazy and broken and creative and beautiful people
Breathes it all in hard
Trailing light rivers from bicycle wheels
Changing the map

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Love letter to London

I wrote this last year, in the back of my journal, scribbled in green pen.

A friend happened to read it and said I should share it, so here it is. Not too polished, but it's honest.

I almost don't want to say this out loud. But London, I feel a little disappointed. In you? By you?

You and me, we've been ever so slowly moving towards each other all these years. An inevitable trajectory - we knew one day we'd be together.

In the meantime, it was all quick dates and brief flings. Exciting, exhilarating, a guilty pleasure. Rough around the edges you were - and that's what I loved. The mix of grime and colour. The unexpected cosy corner. Majesty, mystery, misery all rocking side by side.

You were fresh air in my lungs, a raw kick after the sleepiness of Oxford; energetic honesty after the surrealism of Brighton. You were ideas and positivity peeking up out of the grey. Basements and breakdancing, Brixton, Brick Lane, the last train back to Brighton all danced out and satisfied.

Monday, 2 May 2016

New York: the places we ate

So we did pretty well food-wise in New York, which is cool, because food is probably the quickest way to the hearts of Mr and Mrs Quinn.

Before we went Mr Q said his priorities were pizza and hot dogs.

We basically failed in that respect, I didn't even have a pretzel. BUT I think we more than made up for it with other delights.

So, here we go, our New York food diary:


Hot dog: Hot dog stand outside Central Park
This was probably the most disappointing food purchase. Maybe I just chose the wrong stand, won over by its proclamations of selling hot dogs for 100 years (or something like that) – susceptible tourist that I was. But it filled a gap when I only had $4 dollars on me – although I could only afford saurkraut with it. Maybe that's what let it down? Not really sure what I was expecting though, how good can a frankfurter sausage be? Tell me if I'm missing something here!

Smoothie (kale, mango, peach, lemon & ginger): Jamba Juice
The unremarkable hot dog was made up for later that evening by a smoothie from Jamba Juice. I was drawn in by the stacks of fresh fruit and vegetables, and needed something to sustain me through a writing class. I definitely (accidentally) picked the right place: probably the best smoothie I've ever had, thick and cold and 'zinging'.