20 July 2008

How (not) To Travel Light

There are two types of traveller: those who like souvenirs and those who do not.
I am not a person for souvenirs, having bought a few over the years and ended up throwing them away because once I return home they collect dust and become kind of useless.

For more than a year I have resisted the urge to Buy Stuff. I came to England with just a backpack (weighing less than 20kg) and intend to return home with a backpack of a similar size.

But there is this need to collect, to make a place a home and somehow I have tricked myself into finding a few exceptions to the rule of "I cannot accumulate Stuff."

Postcard Collection Postcard Collection

Like postcards. I find it interesting to scan a few racks of postcards in a new country, checking to see if they have any historical ones or ones that are more stylish than the usual type. And how much do they weigh? Nothing! I can always post them home to myself when I return.

Books about London

Like guidebooks. I've been given a few, have purchased a few from op-shops. They are useful. Clearly they are not to be classified as souvenirs.

There are other collections, too. A little pile of maps, about a zillion photos, a stack of paintings I've done on paper.

Is it really possible to live somewhere for a long time and not accumulate Stuff?
I'm beginning to think not.

18 July 2008

What did you do at school today?

Man, duck, girl

I took this photo at work today. It is a picture of a man, a duck and a girl, according to the extraordinarily artistic four-year-old who drew it. Note the abundance of glitter surrounding man, girl and duck.

Today was all about the three little pigs, the Big Bad Wolf, and showing children how to fold stuff to fit it into tiny envelopes. Some of them thought the best way to fit their pictures in envelopes was to cut them into strips. Some of them took great pleasure in cutting off long pieces of sticky tape to stick all over things. And all of them could not resist the glitter.

There is glitter up my nose, I am sure of it.

12 July 2008

The Crush

Alice's, Portobello Road
Alice's, Portobello Rd

Dear London,

There is no other way to say it: You need to be bigger.

We have lived in your quarter-of-a-house-with-very-small-kitchen for more than a year now and I am gradually going mad trying to force more and more stuff into your tiny little oddly-shaped nooks and crannies. The kitchen is bulging! The bedroom drawers will not shut! The windows are just not big enough!

Also, your tube needs to expand. Its belly is bursting with people and I am tired of smelly men who take up all the elbow room.

And while I'm at it - I do not know about the toilets in all your cheapish restaurants. What is it about there being barely enough room to stand up in them?

Luckily Lauch and I are going to escape your crush, London. We are going away in two more weeks, on a train journey around Europe. Onwards to the squish of train carriages, backpacks and hotels. Maybe when I return you will have become mysteriously bigger.


5 July 2008


I have winter nostalgia. It has crept up on me as I've noticed Londoners doing their usual stylish thing of wearing scarves even in the middle of summer. The weather has quietly become "Will I need a cardigan?" and not "I must put on my thermals, woollen jumper, woollen coat, gloves and scarf." And I LOVE this warmth, but somehow there is the odd feeling of missing wearing a coat and scarf, watching my breath turn white in the air and watching steam rise from tea.