Category Archives: Exploring London

These London corners

“Love makes you see a place differently, just as you hold differently an object that belongs to someone you love. If you know one landscape well, you will look at all other landscapes differently. And if you learn to love one place, sometimes you can also learn to love another.” – Anne Michaels, The Winter Vault

SAM_5488

SAM_5475

SAM_5498

SAM_5495

SAM_5497

SAM_5504

Back in the +44 in January, turning all those familiar corners, taking to the old sunlit streets like a fish to water, everything so starkly familiar, as though I had been gone a long time, as though I hadn’t been gone at all.

Is 10 days enough? I saw Constable’s paintings at the Victoria & Albert, made a visit to East London, passed the New Year on Primrose Hill, had high tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury, met my favourite people for dinner, watched the Curious Incident, did a speedy run of Oxford Street, had a night walk by the river, had Dutch Pancakes and Ramen, sat in friend’s kitchens, made a quick visit to Camden High Street, ate my favourite yogurts and drank Kefir, went home with 9 boxes of Special K Biscuits.

But I didn’t get to see Turner’s paintings at Tate. I didn’t get to walk through Regent’s Park, or supermarket hop.  I would have liked to watch another play, visit more people, see more of London that I hadn’t seen before. Much of the time I admit to huddling, freezing, in the room my friends kindly let me stay in. The England weather is forever unrelenting.

I sensed time passing, things changing from the time I was studying there. Everything a little colder and emptier, the streets containing less emotion than they did before. Still, with its gentle nostalgic light, this place is a comfort to me.

“背中にあった翼は今はもう必要ない”

“The wings I had on my back, I will not need them anymore”

[28/12/2014-8/1/2015]

Rainy day in Shoreditch

“Beware of doors” ~ Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere

SAM_5606

SAM_5619

SAM_5620

SAM_5607

SAM_5609

SAM_5611

SAM_5625

SAM_5623

SAM_5604

It was one of those crazy days towards the end of my December London trip where I suddenly realised how little time I had left. Unfortunately it was cold and rainy the whole time, even though the preceding days had been dry. My friend led me around as I snapped pictures of colourful graffiti.

We visited the famous Dum Dum Donutterie for cronuts (which to be honest were really too sweet for my liking), and had a nice spicy lunch at the market. Afterwards, we made a brief shopping trip down Oxford Street before walking to the Apollo Theatre to catch The Curious Incident, tickets to which I had obtained early that morning queuing outside of the theatre. It was a full day indeed.

[7/1/2015]

Night Dances

IMG_2150

Late at night at Trafalgar Square. Around us the city is alight and moving. Someone’s playing music, and we dance and sing and hug and laugh and spin.  Around our circle rollerbladers glide over stone tiles as though on ice. A gentle stranger names us – one Intelligent, one Crazy, one Beautiful and oh, one who words cannot capture, only silence – the space where magic plays. “This one, I’m not gonna say anything”.

We climb up the pedestal at the base of Nelson’s Column. I clamber up in my little drop-waist dress. The girl whose name is magic, she leaps over walls and ascends high places with grace. Strangers are entranced. Intelligent looks at us and says, yep, this always happens.

IMG_2152In the cool night air, we drift into our solitary spaces. Magic and Intelligent walk around the pedestal. They enter each other’s solitude like two drops of water enter each other. Me, I lie down and feel the smoothness of cold stone against my back. Above my head, the column rises high, and admiral Nelson stands watch by the gibbous moon amidst scarce stars. The city lights – red, yellow and purple – outline the curves of our backs and the strands of our hair, outline the fine hands of Magic as she fingers her cigarette. Light ripples over the backs of the black stone lions as Intelligent and Crazy attempt to scale their rumps. They laugh and say, we were defeated. Above them their stars chide each other and blink.

I’m all quiet and restless again but still I wonder, how could you not fall in love with a city like this?

And how will your night dances
Lose themselves. In mathematics?

Such pure leaps and spirals –
Surely they travel

The world forever

~ The Night Dances, Sylvia Plath

To Home Via Singapore Day: London 2014

Foods

 

SAM_1328

SAM_1331

SAM_1412

SAM_1383

SAM_1423

Last Saturday was Singapore Day, the annual reunion for overseas Singaporeans. SG Day goes to a different city every year, and we were lucky to have it here in London this year.

If there’s such a thing as a perfect day, this might have been it. Though the preceeding days had been chilly, on Saturday the weather was perfect. The food was amazing, and it was real comforting to share the day with all the people who I love in this city, whether I knew them from home or from here. Our phone services immediately failed us when we stepped into the venue because of the sheer number of people there, but that couldn’t ruin our mood. It was rather fun, in fact, to wander around with different groups of people through the day, listening to nostalgic national day songs as groups fluidly split and reunited – everyone’s a friend. Even the Prime Minister, who was very busy taking selfies with eager Singaporeans.

I actually felt rather touched that the government would go to so far – bringing over all the crew and the artistes and hawkers and sponsoring the food and freebies and other little gifts just to make us happy, and organizing it all so well! We were all very impressed, and I felt like a well-loved kid.

There are times when Singapore feels like a past life, an alternate reality. As time passes, the hold your memories and connections have on you start to fade away. Familiarity is overrated, and you start to feel like actually, it’s not inconceivable to that you would settle down in a foreign place. I’m struck by how easy it is to forget, that there actually exists a place you know and cherish, how easy it is to grow accustomed to wandering.

And on heartwarming days like this, you remember. And it’s humbling, to realize, that though I usually don’t feel like I need it to get by, I might actually need home a lot more than I think.

Snapshots from Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined

SAM_1276

1. Our names, tangled in colour

SAM_1285

2. A woven space, a safe space.

SAM_1292

3. “How light reflects and how light is contained is the stuff of architecture”

SAM_13104. The place where we began, will we find it?

SAM_1326

5. “…the proportions of the rooms, their sequence, the way they open – simple things, but which taken together suggest something more complex”

SAM_1299

 Visiting the Sensing Spaces exhibit at the Royal Academy today, I rather felt like I was in a gigantic playground. In that childlike state of mind, it was easier to understand what it meant to engage with the spaces – to take in their colours, shapes, masses, proportions and lighting and see how they made me feel.

 I thought I would try to give snapshots of what was meaningful to me in the spaces, rather than capture and upload the entire exhibit. (To see anything in a photo before experiencing it yourself rather spoils the magic, so I think.)

Chalk Farm on a rainy night

IMG_0673

 

IMG_0657IMG_0671IMG_0653IMG_0654There’s something rather nostalgic about the atmosphere of a rainy city at dusk. We tried a new running route yesterday, and went up Primrose Hill, from which we could see the city skyline, though it was blurred by the spray of rain. Then, wanting to explore a little, we took a spontaneous walk, going further beyond the hill to a little district called Chalk Farm, where we had rum and raisin ice cream before circling through Camden Town and were back just in time for dinner, icy icy cold.