Everything on Earth with you

Something sweet I saw today got me thinking. Today on the coach to London I was sitting next to an asian couple, they could have been in their mid-twenties, and I couldn’t help myself looking at them all the time – they were so adorable. She was knitting a dark green woolen scarf (seriously who KNITS these days? Isn’t it amazing? Even my grandma gave it up for the price of the wool is nowadays higher than three new jumpers from you-know-where-store) probably for him, and in the meantime looking at her boyfriend, smiling at him because he was constantly taking pictures of her with the classic DSLR with a-bit-too-large-and-awfully-expensive lens. Even when she wasn’t looking and was absorbed in her knitting, he kept snapping her from different angles and then examining his shots for ages. When they both got tired of their activities (it was very early in the morning) they fell fast asleep, shoulder to shoulder, head to head.

When I got off the bus at Victoria heading towards exit, there was a beautiful girl sitting on a bench reading a magazine whilst her boyfriend, a very stylish long haired hippie looking guy, was reading a book lying down, his head in her lap. A simple picture really. And yet there was something magical about the scene. They weren’t talking to each other, they didn’t need to, each one of them absolutely engaged in their reading… but they needed to be close, to have their piece of intimacy in that crowded place.

It strikes me you don’t physically need anyone for doing particular activities. You can’t knit the same scarf at the same time with another person (two hands are just enough). It wouldn’t be of any use if four hands held the camera at the same time, pressing a shutter button together. And just as well, even if it is possible for two people reading the same book at the same time, it is not the best thing to try.

There are lots of things you normally do on your own. And you enjoy doing it on your own. But having your loved one next to you, sharing a moment with you, casually touching each other every once in a while makes the time spent doing your own thing divine.

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One day in… Cambridge

I was planning a trip to Cambridge for at least a year. Being occupied with my studying however (ehm, an excuse maybe), I could not find time or the right circumstances to go. But finally we, Lukas, Dixie and me, managed to go and it was more than worth it! I’m not gonna lie, Cambridge attracted me first and foremost because of the University of Cambridge, which is always in the top three (if not first) in university rating. Knowing many famous people who studied or taught there this place gives away some kind of a historically romantic feeling – thinking about whose feet touched the very same ground I am now walking on.

Right after we got to the city centre we got surrounded by several groups of young guys trying to talk us into taking a punting tour. At first we wanted to walk the city on our own, because seeing the town from boat reminded us of these bus tours in big cities that are aimed at older or lazy people who just want to enjoy the comfort of being taken everywhere by someone else. We kept turning them down by making various excuses but believe me it was so hard! Their perseverance finally resulted in us giving in and saying yes. And I have to admit it was the best decision of the day. On a beautiful sunny day like that nothing could be more exhilarating than being sat in a boat – or a punt – and seeing all that beauty around. A huge plus was John – the guy who steered the punt – who was a bit of a story teller! He told us everything he knew about Cambridge and I’d say even things he did not know and just made them up to make us laugh (which he did very successfully). He seemed like that sort of guy whose wit and resourcefulness helps him to add to his stories because he managed to turn every uncertain information into a gossip and every fact into a sensation. So if you ever go punting in Cambridge, ask for John 😉

Afterwards we did what we had planned from the beginning. We walked around the city, visited the market, had a cuppa coffee in a cozy little café (it was my first coffee in a long long time), took pictures, stalked some Cambridge students and visited an official university shop selling robes, scarves, polos, classic knitted V-neck sweaters and other accessories decorated with the respective college’s crest. Needless to say, for the three Harry Potter buffs like ourselves it was a blast! 🙂

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With John – our storyteller 🙂

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Dixie and the Mathematical Bridge

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Art within art

One day in… Bournemouth

One beautiful September day me and my friend Lukas made a trip to Bournemouth. I really like these one-day trips. Knowing you are going to spend only a couple of hours in a place you feel the urge to make the most of your time there and to see as much as possible. Not only to see. But to absorb the place, to feel it.

So that’s exactly what we did. Tried everything Bournemouth is famous for and spent the day as one should when by the sea. So we went straight to the beach, soaked our feet in a freezing water and spent at least an hour looking for shells and nice pebbles. We went to a world famous (at least that’s what they claim) fish and chips place – only a “chips” place for me though – and a desserts awaited for us on the Boscombe pier where we indulged ourselves in a home made locally famous (that claim was more plausible) ice-cream, chilled out and just breathed the salty air in – so precious for the two inlanders 🙂

We especially enjoyed taking pictures with the colourful beach houses – a trademark of Bournemouth – and giggled at the families or elderly people grilling their sausages, drinking their pints of lager and “sunbathing” under the english sun. Very quintessential 🙂 And yes, we bought lots of souvenirs!

Grinning from ear to ear we then got on a train taking us back to reality after a little sunny getaway!

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Once you’re by the sea side no matter how cold the water is, you just have to soak your feet in the sea 🙂

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some colourful memories

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Love my feet selfies 😛

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People would sometimes do almost anything to be special – this upside down acrobat/guitarist is one of the Bournemouth’s more extraordinary tourist attractions 🙂

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Harry Ramsdens famous fish and chips place and one (two) hungry mouths to feed.

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Seagulls – my usual favourite objects to shoot – only with my camera of course 😛

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A beautiful sunny day B-)

Birthday girl

A week ago I turned 26. It was one of the more depressing birthdays, not only because I didn’t celebrate it the way I might have wanted to but also because I reached an age when I realised for the first time in life that I can not consider myself very young anymore. I am after all closer to thirty than twenty. Plus I am no longer eligible for the young person’s travelcard! Now that is depressing 🙂

Birthdays together with New Years Eves are probably the only two days out of 365 when most of us ponder over the past year’s achievements, failures, strokes of luck, misfortunes… Those more lucky ones, who had been born on December 31, or January 1, can be really grateful to be spared of one dreadful day in addition. Both days strike me as very contradictory and confusing. On one hand you HAVE TO have fun “because it’s your birthday“, or “because it’s NYE“ but on the other hand these are the days that certainly carry a sort of DEPRESSING message. On your birthday you start to feel a year older and especially when turning 20, 30, 40, and all those round numbers, you feel like a decade passed you by and all plans you had for those past 10 years which were never done or fulfilled are the proofs of your failure. You are fully aware you will never be younger than you are now and all of a sudden all the wasted days, meaningless hours, unproductive minutes pop out in your mind transforming into a big creepy mouth laughing at you. It is the same with the New Year’s resolutions that you forget about on the second of January but come nastily back to you when the year is over to remind you how weak your power of will is.

Pure misery. And you are supposed to have fun? I don’t see how that’s supposed to be fun. But that’s just me. Don’t take me too seriously, in fact I love those days. Like I love sarcasm 😉

Moving South

South of the border, the border being the river Thames, I temporarily settled down in South London, a part that is generally considered to be the less developed one compared to the North. Seems like the city follows the usual concept of North – South divide: Northern parts of the world being more developed than the Southern areas – okay North and South Korea are one of the exceptions.

Just look at the tube map and you’ll get the idea: they didn’t even bother building much of an underground train system here. But! we’ve got trains. They are usually delayed and packed but let’s face it: this is no Switzerland. This is not Switzerland in many more respects than just trains. Roads are quite bumpy, sidewalks mostly so cracked that rolling a suitcase on a pavement was a nightmare when I first moved in and you can see chicken bones scattered everywhere – as one South Londoner once filled me in on this subject: “South Londoners just looove their fried chicken“. Yes, I can see that.

The best part is the house I live in. It’s a great huge house in Streatham and I live with four British guys. At first I was a bit anxious – me not only being the only girl in the house, but also the only non-english person. On my first day the guys greeted me with the bottle of red wine and a couple of bad news like the heating doesn’t work, which to some extent cooled down the warm welcome. For the first three days I could literally store food in my room like in a fridge, but on the fourth day everything was sorted and I was finally able to start enjoying it. The perks of living with four British guys is that I got to know lots of video games and TV series, I stopped being an OCD freak and am actively contributing on making mess myself (and not caring about it!), I learned that the pint of beer or a glass of whisky can do no harm at any time in the day and found out that when a guy says he’s going to change the lightbulb in the bathroom I should prepare myself to take a shower in the dark for at least next two weeks.

Anyway, they are all very sweet and can cheer me up every time I get my London blues. And even though most of the times I have no idea what they’re saying, I’m surviving pretty successfully with: “Oh yeah…“ “Oh, yeah?“ “Really?“ “Huh, funny!“ hoping they never find out 😉

iPhone you phone

Can someone please explain to me what’s with the iPhone mania? Sometimes I get the feeling like I’m most likely the last person in this country without an iPhone. I mean seriously, are other phone brands still operating on British market? Do other brands even bother selling their phones in Britain? Because even if they do bother, I guess the pitiful number of sales must really damage their dignity.

Again, I hate to make generalizations – actually I love to make them no matter how wrong I realise they might be – but seriously if you spot someone in the streets of London, on the tube, on the bus or wherever else with a different phone than iPhone you can conclude one of the following :

  1. The person is a tourist from a country where competition is actually existent on the phone market, therefore the person is not British.
  2. The person is British but he or she accidentally dropped his or her iPhone on the floor/down the toilet/or the gap between the train and the platform and he temporarily has to use his mum’s or dad’s old phone (from before they got iPhones as well).
  3. The person is British but is a lot more of a hipster than actual hipsters (I mean those homless looking people with iPhones) that means he or she is a hipster without even knowing or realising it.
  4. That phone is just a company phone. And he or she happens to be employed in an Asian company.

Iphones became obviously globally accepted in Britain as the only phones worth having. Price is not much of a factor here, because no matter if you are a high profile politician, CEO, a waitress, or a student, everyone somehow can afford to have one. And even if they couldn’t afford it at first they probably just skipped some lunches or dinners to save up some money in order to follow the main stream.

Those with iPhones can easily accuse me of being just jealous that I don’t own one. But come on, I am so NOT jealous. I couldn’t be less jealous. In fact I love my Windows Phone. And I totally don’t need Instagram or Tinder. Did I mention I’m not jealous? Because I’m not 😉

The London ordeal

About a month ago I set on a mission to find a room to rent in London. What could be easier right? According to the recent study, every sixth person desires to live and work in London and according to my own naked eye observation at least every second actually ends up pursuing this desire and clearly succeeds – judging from the population density on trains/buses/streets. Real estate business is thriving, the demand is high and the supply is most definitely not what one calls a scarcity.

In spite of all this and the fact that “every 3 minutes someone finds a flatmate“ (Spareroom, 2014, p. 1), that ‘someone’ definitely wasn’t me. In the course of this search I was confronted with following complications:

  1. The person behind the offer is not picking up the phone/ replying to my emails/ texts. (Oh if this was the biggest problem it’d be bliss and heaven – though still, if it happens every day, several times a day, for several weeks – it does not put a smile on your face.
  2. When a person actually does pick up the phone they either tell me they’re going to call me back because they’re busy at the moment (yeah, you’re right, they never call back) or I hear the usual: “sorry the room has already been taken“ – sometimes without that sorry part.
  3. When I actually get a positive answer and I get to arrange a viewing (yaay), they cancel the viewing at best an hour before it was supposed to take place, or at worst fifteen minutes before the viewing when I am already seated on an underground train on my way there saying “the room has already been taken“.
  4. The offer is a fraud (a brand new penthouse on Baker Street for 500 a month? Yeah very bloody likely).
  5. The room is beautiful but too expensive for me to afford – or cheap but a hell hole.
  6. The room is too expensive, but still a hell hole – which gives me the satisfaction when turning this offer down.
  7. The photos of the room are probably downloaded from google pics after typing in ‘beautiful and clean room’ or to a considerable extent photoshopped because after entering the house they really do NOT resemble the reality.
  8. The room is nice, but the house is owned by a chinese family of three packed in one room just to be able to let the other four rooms.
  9. The room is nice and clean but its size reminds me of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs at Dursleys’. And yeah, still expensive.
  10. Even the google maps failed to navigate me to the house address. (Yes that actually did happen!)

It has been a beautiful and not at all frustrating search. I only hope the damage on my mental health is not permanent.

After all this and after a great advice: “lower your expectations, increase your budget!“ I came to a conclusion that there is no golden mean when it comes to housing in London. Maybe there is, but you gotta be very lucky!

At last, I found my safe haven – its not perfect but it is a (temporary) home.