Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 | brighton, london, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Murky Monday morning and my train pulled into Burgess Hill station. There, standing alone and removed from her group of friends was a little girl in her red school jumper, staring up the platform for her train south.

One look up from my Kindle and I was transported back to crisp autumn mornings, waiting at the bus stop up the road from my parents for my navy blue school bus. On a main road, but in a village; my memories of those few minutes every morning are of bird song, frosted grass crumpling under foot and something countryside clean. That fresh air. Those greeny browns of the falling leaves. That crunch of unbroken frost. The silence.

I realised that the greens, browns and golden sunsets that I catch out of the window each day have given me a sense of the silence and calm of the countryside. Together with the book on my lap they have created a bubble for me, between one City and the other city.

I’m writing this on my way home, trying to map at which sections of the journey this bubble closes round me. There’s the rush through the tube, but I now find this automatic and barely think about where I am. Once on the train I find My Seat, and before I take off my coat I realise I’ve pulled my Kindle from my bag and laid it on the table. I’ve always read a lot but I currently get through about four books a week. This makes my Kindle purchasing history since I was given it in June, somewhere around 50 books.

The fifteen minutes to East Croydon are still the City, the carriage is fuller, the voices are louder and these are the minutes I sink back into the story. There is no bubble yet, but as we pull out of the station and through the suburbs, trees line the tracks and I am enclosed.

There is a section around Three Bridges where sometimes sudden flashes of bright gold hit the screen and I turn to beautiful rolling clouds, drenched in a pink gold sunset. The sky seems wider from a train window but it’s only a glimpse and my eyes lower, bubble unbroken.

The one place that I consciously raise my head on each trip is Balcombe viaduct. I look up and out at the fields below and this evening am rewarded with a pink red sun, only a sliver of crescent above the blackened distant trees.

Around Burgess Hill and Hassocks I can occasionally smell the glorious scent of wood smoke, and yearn for log fires whilst snuggling further down into my seat and my book.

And my bubble carries me through to Preston Park, when the other city grows close and home beckons, reality starts to seep in.


London calling

Thursday, July 7th, 2011 | london, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

So it’s day four of my commute and I’m already starting to find my pattern.  I was warned that I’d find myself waiting at specific points on the platform where the doors will open, that I’d be almost able to get to London in my sleep.  Although I’m definitely not at the sleeping stage yet, it’s been interesting to see how quickly I’ve picked up little habits already.  Yes, I have started waiting on platforms in the right spot, and I have got my commuter stride going, which I suspect is doing wonders for my thighs.

I am definitely loving getting three hours a day of solid reading in; my Kindle and I are becoming best friends.  This weeks list includes Caitlin Moran’s “How To Be A Woman” which has me giggling inappropriately and China Mieville’s “The City & The City”.  I’ve not yet had to stand for any part of the journey and I’ve only been delayed once and by five minutes.  I suspect that this golden period can’t last too long however, and I’m always conscious of the inevitable “leaves on the line”.

Of course, this laissez-faire attitude my well somewhat strengthened by the fact that it is a very exciting week.  But I’m not going to tell you about Lanyrd today, you’ll just have to catch up with our Friday week notes!

Webby 5s Night

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 | london | No Comments

Monday night was Webby5s night up at the ICA, organised to help kick off the 12th annual Webby Awards by those charming chaps at Poke London. I jumped on a train, tried desperately hard not to fall asleep, and met up with Tom in time for some dim sum at Ping Pong. Oh I love Ping Pong! Then we dashed over to the Mall in time to grab a free beer and catch up with Matt, Matt and Matt before the talks started.

I really liked the format, lengthened from the original Webbys; five slides and five sentences per slide. Of course there are many ways you can interpret five sentences, a variety of ways you can make them somewhat longer using a interesting punctuation, or of course using none at all. We had a combination of very short, normal, long, longer and entire paragraphs. It was good to see Brighton’s very own Matt Hanson, along with Francis Irving, Rafael Rozendaal and my personal favourite David McCandless.

Another benefit of this nice concise format is that it leaves plenty of time for more free beer before you have to get the train home. So we hung out, discussed the Brighton massive and BSG amongst other equally intellectual topics before dashing back to Victoria to sleepily ride home.

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That lovely green stuff….

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 | london, weekend | No Comments

On Saturday I finally got to visit Kew Gardens again. I say finally because I really wanted to go last year but never had the time, and two years ago when I first went seems, a long time ago now.

I love Kew, it’s one of those places where I can feel my heart rate slow as I walk through the gates. (What is that about me and greenery?) Suddenly all is calm, the only distraction is the multitude of planes that fly over. I don’t remember there being that many – but last time I went mid-week when perhaps there are less flights? Or I just cut them out of my memory, and chose to remember more trees instead.

With only a couple of hours to spare before the Mousetrap (I know – what a perfect day; gardens and Agatha Christie!), we took in the Pagoda and my favourite walk up the cedar vista. There’s something rather lovely about the long grass, filled with grasshoppers (Ok, they were nice at the time but I’m not a big insect fan in general), trees reaching skywards and that occasional (Ok, not that occasional) interruption from the flight path.

Of course, no sooner had we walked out of the gate (and amazingly avoided the ice-cream van) we wanted to go back and spend a day, with a picnic and a book and not too damp grass between our toes.

A quick hike along a couple of tube lines and we were in Leicester Square, hunting around for the theatre (there are so many!) and a healthy dose of murder. Of course I can’t tell you who did it (if you still don’t know), but I can tell you that it was good fun. Tweed and chintz sofas ruled, posh accents and a fair dose of over-acting in true Agatha Christie style. And Tom only fell asleep once!

Amazingly the rain held off until we dashed for the train home, in itself quite a miracle at the moment. What was lovely was to get away from Brighton for a day, oh and all that green. I do love that green.

Chelsea Flower Show

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007 | chelsea, gardens, london | No Comments

The Chelsea Flower Show was great fun this year, the day only being slightly marred by lots of travel complications on the way home. But until four o’clock we had a lovely day wandering about in the sunshine. It was much busier this year, perhaps because the weather was so much better than last, and so we spent much of the morning huddled between ladies in their summer frocks and elder gents, Show Guides in hand, peering at the show gardens over shoulders. I spent a lot of time on tiptoe – pointing my phone over heads in the hope of getting a photo that showed at least some of the garden.

We voted for an early lunch (mostly because I hadn’t had any breakfast and was beginning to feel it!) before heading back out in the afternoon and fortunately getting a better look. I ended up with a head full of ideas, feeling really rather hot and with sore feet – definitely Pimm’s o’clock. It was glorious to sit back under a tree and sip a nice tall glass.

I was happy to see a wide range of designs, lots of fun new ideas and some new variations on familiar ideas. I especially loved the Un-Tei Garden of Clouds (although so did everyone else – there was always a hoard of people standing around it admiringly)! There was a “Where the Wild Things Are” garden – complete with boat and bed of grass (real bed that is). Then there was the Chetwood’s Urban Oasis – a fantastic solar powered “flower”, which opens and closes and pumps water around the garden. Probably wouldn’t fit in my little patio though.

Of course, heading back into London a while later was rather weird. From greenery and gardens to the smog of Slone Square! But then disaster struck, on the tube we were told that Victoria station was closed, so started heading for London Bridge. Of course, Sod’s Law, halfway to London Bridge I saw that it was only Victoria tube station that was closed, but we were nearly at London Bridge so didn’t see the point in turning round. Heh – until we got to London Bridge that is! A trackside fire (which the tube driver helpfully didn’t actually tell us about until we got to the station) meant that the station was closed. So out we trooped, across the platform and back the way we came. Then a long walk along to Victoria, along with lots of other people, until we finally caught the train home. There was snoozing, and not much chatter – we were just glad to have got a seat!

Fortunately by the time I got home, foot sore and knackered, my head was still full of alliums and rills, beds in the sunshine and silk parasols galore. Fantastic!


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