I wouldn’t say that the last few weeks have been quiet exactly, but we have settled into more of a routine, finally getting some proper decorations up in the flat (I think this is outing #5 for my venerable Underground to Anywhere poster, which has made it across the Atlantic and back with me) and enjoying a few weekends in a row without any major travel. Naturally we’ve used this time to plan future travel, because otherwise there would be nothing to blog about later.
We have had several welcome guests (and two unwelcome ones), starting with Katie (in the welcome category) who came with Tash and Cormac to inspect our flat and local pub before staying overnight for an intensive Saturday of Grand Austria Hotel. Also still in the welcome category is Villy, who popped in on one of her head-spinning globetrotting tours to sample the delights of Herne Hill Market and Brockwell Park. My favourite moment was in the walled garden when she exclaimed, in a real burst of national pride, that Bulgaria was the world’s biggest exporter of rose oil. So now you know too.
Rounding out the welcome category are Sophie and Irfan, who stopped by for tea after we all had dinner together at the Mercato Metropolitano food court. (If you haven’t been just because it’s south of the river, you should go! Although it was worrying to hear from Irfan that after 5 years of living nearby his North London identity has totally slipped away.) It’s been two years since I last saw Sophie and god knows how long since I last saw Irfan, but it was reassuring just how quickly we slipped back into our old uni patterns of bullying Sophie for not knowing enough about the Tube. Even after I marched us around in circles in the rain looking for the wrong bus stop.
The two unwelcome visitors? A pair of mice, which clearly approve of our decorating because they suddenly saw fit to explore the living room. We may have gone a tad over the top in response, culminating this afternoon in a protracted stakeout, a large saucepan and some extraordinary rendition to a neighbouring road. Don’t worry, we’ve got this, and you should still feel free to visit us.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve also had lovely catch-up drinks with Peter Mandler, a work-organised steak night in which I didn’t eat any steak, ‘lunch’ (i.e. the feeding of the five thousand) at Carolyn’s with Aussie cousins Deb & Rob as well as Cindy and little Isaac, amongst others, and a long night out with Clark where I grilled him about Brexit as if he had been summoned to a select committee. (Sorry, Clark! Just catching up!) After a two-month break – for which you can blame railway engineering works – Randi and I also completed our fifth section of the London Loop walks. That name is slightly misleading for a route which stuck mostly in Essex, but I’ll forgive it because it yielded our first (delicious) blackberries of the whole endeavour.