Before landing in London, I had a few ideas about what would happen there:
- Everything would be super posh – from the way people spoke to the way dogs walked and fences lay in straight, white lines
- I would see people vlogging everywhere
- I would say “London Baby” approximately three times a day
Exactly one of these things actually ended up coming into fruition, but that’s because I’m hopelessly obsessed with F.R.I.E.N.D.S and nothing was going to stop me from living out my fantasies. As it turns out, London is filled with a lot of parks, and people enjoy hanging flowers around their homes, and Primark is overwhelmingly large. People drive miniture cars, and birds swoop quite low and instead of street-signs on poles, they’re drilled into the wall of corner buildings. But other than that, London is like Melbourne in many ways. People drive on the left and speak English, drink at the pub and eat fish and chips on hot days.
THE FIRST DAY we lay in Hyde Park as the sun set, drinking cider and talking.
THE SECOND DAY we went to Hampton Court.
THE THIRD DAY we went to Portobello Rd and then we did the touristy stuff.
It’s funny to write it down like that – because reading it, it all sounds pretty basic. Like I did all the touristy things that I’ve seen on TV or read in novels but it is still so important to me that I went anyway. That little ol’ me with all of my bones and brain got on a plane and propelled myself across the ocean to see what I’ve only ever imagined.
Because I think that when you’re travelling, it’s not really about what you do, but what you thought about it. Like when I went to Hyde Park, I was just thinking how great the sun looked setting behind the lake of white swans, and that it’s kind of funny how in Australia our swans are black. And when I went to Hampton Court, I was thinking about why we love hearing about the past and whether it’s to remind us that there was a world before ourselves, or whether it’s because we want to seem cultural or something. And when I went to Portobello Rd, I envisioned myself in another life – a life surrounded by pastel buildings and coloured doors and I wondered whether I would still be such a fan of colour if I lived in that every day. The thing about travelling is that your mind gets to think of stuff that doesn’t stand a chance when you’re living your day-to-day. When’s the last time you looked up when you were commuting to Uni, taking the same route? When’s the last time you looked down?
While I was travelling, I kept a journal. After the first day in London, I wrote this:
“I think when we talk about what the point of travelling is, it’s easy to say ‘Oh, to experience another culture’ and think you’ll get that in the museums and the symbols of that place. But really, I think it’s lying in the park listening as people walk their dogs or ride their bikes and smoke Shisha with their friends. And then as you’re sitting there, surrounded by people who don’t realise you’re looking at them, you see realness. It’s not like changing the guards or having a tour of Big Ben – it’s not a show. It is life. And as much as I love history, I am so much more concerned with the now and the living and the alive. That’s what I was thinking as I rode through Hyde Park – I was so happy and content to just be, as though I’d been there all long.”
I love taking photos and filming videos, and I think that it’s such a great way to remember what happened and what you looked like and the great times you had. But man, I’m also really glad I kept a little journal to record how I felt. Because that’s great to think about as well, and now I feel like I should try to lie in parks more often to be with the living and the alive.
Thanks London, you were so beautiful and I really appreciate your flowers. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but your flowers – potted on window stills or hanging from lamp posts – they made my day.