Is Wallpaper making a massive comeback in our homes in 2021?

 

Wallpaper is a key trend for 2021, and the insatiable appetite from consumers doesn’t look like abating any time soon,’ says David Harris, Design Director at Andrew Martin.

Sanderson Fruit Aviary.

If you are a product of the fifties, you were most likely also a product of the wallpapered bedroom.  Mine, I remember distinctly, would be changed every few years, and it would be not just the wallpaper, but the curtains, valance and sometimes, even the cover of the bed.

Sanderson was the current favourite, our lives characterised by the Sanderson fabric and wallpapers in our house. It wasn’t just Sanderson, but mum was an ardent supporter. So it was when I had my first home, after years of living like a student of in flats in cities as I was pretending to know what I was doing, that I went straight back to the Sanderson stable.  Not so much the wallpapers, but Little Chelsea and Rose and Peony, to name two favourites, were curtained up and upholstered on the very grand sofa.  I was echoing my mother, was I becoming my mother?

Hotel Caron de Beaumarchaise.

The love affair with wallpaper, for me anyway, seemed to fade with the neutrals and monotones of the Nineties and early 21st century.  South Africans, in particular, were finding themselves less florally inclined, and if wallpaper was selected, it was nothing as busy and garden orientated.  I went for the taupes, the creams, the nudes.  Wall statements were fallow in favour of strong accent colours in the room. Natural light and openness, and may I venture a rise in fabulous local fabrics and decor.  At times I even leant towards the desert theme, sun washed bones and hides for accents.

The more I returned to Europe, and in particular living in England, it was the hotels that reignited my love of wallpaper.  We do not get to see each other’s home all that often, it’s very much an English thing, but the hotels I was booking my clients into, revealed the most beautiful, wallpapered lobbies, rooms and dare I say, bathrooms.  I found myself photographing hotel toilets in the reception areas, just because I loved the wallpaper.

Saint James, Paris

Wallpaper helps to tell a story, it sets the tone of the room. Bold, daring, soft and cosy, the room takes on an identity of it’s own. Why are we sort of scared to paste?  Maybe because it is expensive and set for a long time, where with accessories, you can change the look of the room in an instant. With the pandemic, many have turned inwards, to their own interiors, in which we are spending a great deal of time, and I am drawn to doing something different this time. I need drama right now, I need passion and optimism and colour. I may not be able to control what is happening outside, but I can make my living space, more mine.

So it is the wallpaper I go.

Hotel Daniel, Paris.

I have bought five rolls of wallpaper, to put in my suitcase and take back to my home in Cape Town.  To paper the walls of my bedroom and bathroom, and that’s a start. It is the paper in the first photograph, Fruit Aviary, so yes, I am going back to the days of yore, the mother days, the bedroom wallpaper days and I cannot wait to see the results.

It’s gloomy out there.  Hope the birds and fruit will cheer me up when I wake … staying positive, trying new things …

London – a walk beyond King’s Cross.

It is a long way away from the normal, energetic and bustling city I am used to right now.  Nevertheless, there is a beauty in the Sleeping Beauty city of wonder.  Whilst all are in lockdown and keeping close to home, I find myself, for work, and might I add, mental well being, still venturing into the quiet city, still within the boundaries, still to find the majesty and grandeur beneath the veil of silence.

The city is sleeping.  A pocketful of people are out in the financial and tourist areas, and where I would once be striding and headlong walking and giving tours, I now have time to linger, look up, get closer and take in new (and there are always new) sights and signs, adding to the massive photograph selection, notes and reminders, to review, research and formulate different tours.

Today I found myself at King’s Cross and St. Pancras.  These are two of my favourite places, mainly because they are the hubs from which I alight and make my way to the Eurostar. She still travels to Paris, albeit with a select list of passengers and nothing else open, not even a quick coffee to collect for the journey.  I am not one of those fortunate to travel to France at the moment, so must wistfully look at the beauty from afar and wait to return to the queue boarding, in the future.

St. Pancras is an architectural marvel, linked to the grand and stunning St. Pancras Hotel. Now closed, hopefully not for long.

Over the past few years, much has happened to the sort of run down area, behind King’s Cross. Old Coal Yards and Gas Buildings have been transformed into glistening apartments, the University of Arts London, restaurants, piazzas, office buildings and open living spaces.

 

From the rubble to magnificent urbanisation.  Love the way structures of the past, once perhaps unsightly, have been transformed.  In the winter sunshine, the harnessing of urban architecture and green spaces marry history and a vivid past. Granary Square is inviting, complete with urban pieces, water features and an inviting view of the canal. A close walk to Coal Drops Yard, again forged anew from working rail yards and derelict ruins.  Keeping parts of the old structure, two skyward roofs seem to rise from concrete and melt into each other, like the tail of a whale rising up from the sea.

Though quiet today, the hustle of upmarket shops align side by side for business. Glass and brick art. And the building continues. An urban oasis. Loo break provided, and we know in the time of lockdown, loo hunting is part of the game. As a tour guide, this is an essential part of the business, but in lockdown, and doing my research, it is even more vital when a coffee, or two, cannot go amiss, particularly when the weather is bristling and cold.

St Pancras Basin.  How far can one walk along the water’s edge? What is so lovely, as in all of London, is the respect for the past, for architecture which may have been functional, or decorative, restored. Incorporated into the new London, the ever changing London.  We learn so much from every part of her.  King’s Cross remembers the many who laboured and built a great railway, bricked the walls and buildings with pride.  Who brought the coal, the cheese, the people to this mecca.

It is a beautiful walk, not well known to tourists, but important to discover as this is as important and beautiful as the many known tourist sights.

The sun was out, the gloves were on, the eyes pleasured by it all. Now to get down to the notes, the history and how this development will add to the glory of the city and her people.

 

Staying strong. Stay strong.

My dear friends … it has been hard.  This whole year has been fractious, anxious, unknowing, and just plain difficult.

When I experienced my first lockdown, there was a sense of bravado, even fun, trying to get hold of wine, been told off for meeting someone across the road, waiting for the skies to open and then thinking … it will get better.

Tonight, I am in London, in Tier 4, and little is better.  This is my fifth lockdown, if anyone is counting, so effectively I have spent the entire year with some restriction or another.  Work has dried up, being in the tourism industry, and my walks around London are now not proudly showing off this amazing city, but walking alone. And now I cannot really do that either.

For some who do not know, I live between London and Cape Town.  A result of a change in relationships and a new chapter.  I love both equally, but my work is here, and having flown back in August, I have spent the past four months without an much of an income, like so many others.  For some who may know, it has been a change over the past few years of having to start again, re-define myself and build my future, firmly planted in my own two shoes.  My family are here and that is why I love being here, and then I go back to my roots to savour my heritage. Lockdown has brought some wild flurries of despair and heartache, but also a time of self growth, though I have not yet succumbed to the knitting or banana bread making.

Instead I have chosen to discover more of London, areas I had known little about and I suppose, determined to educate myself at this time.  Walked the streets that are dormant, listless, at times having coffee shops open, times looking around for the available loo stops (which are important) as I delve and photograph and research to a new level.  Looking up, looking down, into alleys and history and what fascinates me so about this city.

I have re-discovered my love of Art. In particular Art History, for I am afraid a master of the paintbrush I am not ever going to be, but the details and stories in every masterpiece has me at, just standing and so aware that I am in the midst of greatness, in every century.  More importantly, with all the submersion into history, culture and art, I have become acutely aware of how life has always been fragile, tenuous and fleeting.  Passengers all.  My life, till now, has been easy, no World Wars and endless days of bombing over my head, technologically advanced, and I think this pandemic has swooped me right back to thinking that it is all just about, taking every day at a time and appreciating a life I have been given.

And she says this, not in the free falling of … it is what it is … I don’t like that phrase, but in the flipping, I am part of an existence that has been a long time past and a long time coming and I am going to just be strong and weather this storm and leave a little mark, somehow, somewhere … who knows?

Can joke about this year, about to end with more restrictions and Dear Lord, Brexit.  Oh please, can we cancel Brexit under the circumstances and realise we really do need each other? Can we just go back to being friends and allies and fellow countrymen and file Brexit away? Guess not, not that it will deter me from travelling to Europe at the very first chance I can get.

Which is the plan. Must plan when everything seems without plans and without planes in the sky.

So thank you Charlie Mackesy for your words of wisdom, you are, with copious amounts of wine, getting me through this. I am strong, London stands magnificent and Table Mountain will still be there for me. I will not be defeated, she says hopefully, will be careful but now more than ever, rely on the lovely bloggers, mainly my age, who are strong, positive and feeding my soul.

Can you imagine how isolated and lonely people once were when no news arrived, you feared a letter and life was reduced to your own little corner? Some say it was better.  We have social media, bloggers, influencers and like minded people sharing, caring and drip feeding me everyday.

Truth, like blood, is here.  The times are coursing through our veins and we can choose to poison our blood, our lives or our dreams because of it, but I am holding out, staying strong and determined to find the positive, feel for those who have suffered greatly through this, and hope that I may be blessed to chat, discover, travel and grow, after this lockdown.

Some of us are alone, or feel alone at this time.  We may not know each other, but we are there for each other. Keep blogging, texting, Instagramming, Face booking or whatever you want to do … I am on the other side, feeling less lonely, less old, less hopeless, because of you. Staying strong. Stay strong.

Credit Image. Charlie Mackesy

 

Walking London. Grand Union Canal, Paddington and early Christmas lights.

I really, really, really don’t want much for Christmas … really.  Right now, I just want the whole wide world to return to normal.  That’s not asking much is it?  Just put it under my Christmas tree, in a beautifully wrapped parcel – here delightful, here is the world returned and all is good with the universe.

This lockdown has been brutal. Twelve months ago, the city was vibrant, alive with festive merry spreading.  Lights were inspiring and the best excuse to go into the city, have dinner, or to a show.  A glass of wine at the Stafford after a brilliant tour, so different to now.  So now we are trying to capture Christmas a whole month early, and who can blame us?  Houses are being draped in lights, trees are up and it is only November. Along with the November moustaches and early pretend it’s Christmas, all looks altered again.

To still the anxiety which creeps regardless, and kill the boredom of not having to go to my favourite place for an early morning coffee, I walk. If anything, to hear the sound of buses going, to seek life, to find nature. The tube seems like the last ride to a scary place, all masked and suspicious.  Some are mask defiant and we scowl at them.  I try and sip my second choice coffee furtively and not draw attention – sneak under mask and repeat. Said before, outings now are governed by the acute need to know where to pee – route according to toilet facilities, ah, it has come to this and I guess I am an expert now on where to go when you have to go, when in London.

 

The walk today had me at a few ago. Regent’s park.  It is Sunday, a sunny day, and the entire world is here.  Finding a bench to sit becomes a silent war, as is the pushing and queueing for a takeaway, as if we use ration stamps. The roses are confused – budding and blooming as leaves fall. I feel their fuzziness. The sense of unnaturalness permeates, but we are blessed for sun and budding roses.

Walking along Regent’s Canal is a always a thrill for me, but it is packed with others thinking the same.  We pass, we shimmy alongside, we dodge the puddles and hope not to end in the drink. Armies of the anxious out in the few hours of light. We marvel at the duo paddling on the icy water, actually no. Fawn over the mansions with a view and a silent resolve to try the Lotto once again. The weather is indeed, great, so great I am sweating in the double layering of maybe winter.

And then the light happens.  It’s only four in the afternoon, but the light comes to the water. It is astonishing, brilliant and sharp and magnificent on swans, duck feathers, house boats, spilling down from glass buildings and into liquid. Gushingly gorgeous. We all, collectively, swoon and click. This is the reward for the cloying, claustrophobic living lockdown.

 

The light is dancing on the Paddington basin.  Houseboats are smoking and show piles of firewood on their roofs. It must be cold on the water.  The Grand Canal is a triumph of development behind Paddington station.  Now office blocks are eerily quiet and the many restaurants closed, but the odd ‘essential’ offering open to ply fish and chips, pastries and coffee. It is modern and eclectic and smatterings of old London, given credit and offered to cheer us up.  Love the statues, the messages, the poems on walls and the neon lights.

The station is deserted.

Then it is to London, my style Christmas delight.  The Angels on Regent and Jermyn Streets. Burlington arcade, quiet but glittered.

Lashings of copper, gold and green. The tree in Trafalgar Square is still missing, a gift from Norway to the English in thanks for the support during the war and always delivered, every year.  Will she appear? Still walking, still not ready to go home, I cross to Southbank. There are no stalls, no Christmas music and steaming Mulled wine.

She has survived many times, did I ever imagine myself to see her wounded so? She shoots shards of brilliance still.

 

All weather walk: Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill, Camden and the Canal.

Hello Sherlock, it has been a while.  I give tours about you Sherlock, and COVID has put that all to bed.  The tourists are far beyond our borders, our borders are closed.  In this time, when it is so easy to get really down and feel hopeless, I am for a walk, a long walk, that begins with you.  Baker Street is a charming Tube Stop, all old and slopey with Wooden staircases leading to different exits.  Normally its bustling with tourists, crowded with tourists for this destination serves two, unique London favourites.  Madam Tussauds, and the man himself – Sherlock Holmes.

I know him intimately and when lockdown fades, can take you to all tales and secrets, and even his ‘home’, at 221B Baker Street. You have no idea how many times I am stopped with enquiries to the home of Sherlock. Bless them.

Where most people recoil from the unpredictable, and gloomy November weather, I love the bracing sharpness that makes walking so much easier.  Clouds of electric blue, dispersed with shots of gun metal gray, and then, the shards of light from a watery sun that turns the sodden leaves to nuggets of gold – the intensity of uncharacteristic seasons all bundled up together, is exhilarating.  As is Regent’s Park, any time of the year.

Regent’s Park is one of the eight Royal Parks, named after the Prince Regent, or playboy prince, who later became King George IV.  The park is one of my favourites and summer is all for rowing boats on the lake, ice-creams and the annual Open Air Theatre.  Visit Queen Mary’s Rose Garden with over 12 000 roses bushes and be enchanted.  I love it in the summer and picnics are a special thing, but it is at any time during the year, from the Spring Bulbs to the stark landscape of fallen leaves and red berries, much enjoyed by this fellow.  As tame as the pigeons on the bridge railing, the Egyptian geese on the lakes and maybe not so tame, are the hedgehogs breeding here, and I am determined to see them.  The park offers a criss cross of walkways, Outer and Inner Circle, sports activities and of course, much walking, and especially in this weather, much needed coffee.

In the lockdown, though I still explore and gather notes, one ‘interesting’ issue to arise, is the lack of bathroom facilities available.  Coffee shops and cafés can now only serve from the doorway and toilets are out of bounds – do not even get me started on this, so irritating, but as a true guide always does, finding clean toilet facilities is an important part of the job.  This time, not so much for my clients, but for me avec the cold weather and hot coffee.  So I make notes of where I will be able to find the next toilets along the route (humbug but neccessaire.) The cafe at Regent’s Park is take away only, and no bathroom, so it was a short walk to the public loos – which have a tiny fee of 20p, payable by contactless card.

The walk was broken by a quick darting into St. John’s Lodge, in the Inner Circle.  The garden is a hidden gem, a little muddy after the rain, but that’s my November thing – striding through muddy patches, hoping not to end up on butt and loving the whole being in nature thing – it’s different in the winter and fall – down and countrified in the city stuff.

The walk, for the loving and the fit, calls you up to Primrose Hill.  The hill of Bridget Jones’ opening sequence and one of the best views over the skyline of London.  For so many people there, it is always a peaceful place.  We are back in the sunshine, and bless us, a touch of physical exercise and sunshine and the joggers strip down to crop tops and goosebumps.  But collectively we stand, resigned at our situation, and looking forth, perhaps for a promise of better, before a silent homage to your struggle brother, to your mental health sister, and peel down the hill into smaller lives.

Bit of a turn here and right there and high street Primrose Hill sparkles in the light I mentioned.  Some jewels are open, some in the box and the locals are clearly loyal to corners for conversations, their dogs either indifferent or grateful for the time to sniff.  One of my favourite restaurant lives in this street – this is a posh area, the houses around the park, up to St. John’s Wood are envious inciting, but generally only for bankers and celebrities, one or two you may spot if you loiter enough.

I am moving from one extreme to the other.  Chalk Farm wedged between Primrose verdant living and the edgy grittiness of Camden Town. This is true London style and why I could never be bored here.  Camden may have changed and become more gentrified in the last decade, she still entices the quirky, the curious and the devoted.  Small entrepreneurs who live their dream and discard the critics, supported by like and live from the punk to the pretty.  They are all at home.  Alleys of locked up loveliness, hidden from the light, but look up at the umbrellas, though a symbol of rain, also the happy dots of we can weather this;  am trying to remain super positive in the loneliness of walking through the Stables.  A few die hard food pop ups temp but the cold and the isolated makes them seem sad also.  The winter of discontent is more pronounced this year. But delight, another toilet opportunity – this is really a tragic situation, and then, of course, to stumble or rather walk into the larger than life statue of Shaka Zulu in London.  This Zulu King does not belong here, abandoned, for now, in an alley.  He looks lost.  I am also thinking, with the whole tear down the statue thing, this king sacrificed young virgins to his hearts content – is he still relevant?  What say you?

The muddy shoes make much of these pathway along the Regent’s Canal.  Puddle obstacles, saunters doing it too slowly but there is no hurry, what else are we going to do? The dampness of rain clings beneath the archways iced with graffiti, into the dark, out in the light, under the archway, another view in sight.  Brilliant homes, tragic views of the London Zoo with Hyenas caged rather than on the Savannahs of Africa – cannot abide the awfulness of it, so look to the Mallards instead.  A single barge comes put-putting down the canal, captain au fait with the instagram moment, no hurry.  Barges line with plastic chairs tied, flower boxes in needs of paint. Winter peels away more than just the prettiness of the summer, yet it is the waiting room for spring and other things can make the days alive and strong.

It is a stunning walk this one, and for most satisfying, but if you think the canal walk goes all the way to the Paddington basin, it’s going to be an abrupt surprise.  This is Edgeware area, there are council flats and bustling shops, the glamour and elegance of the canal much changed as you find your way back to something touristy and familiar. Let it not detract from the splendour, and you can always turn around and do it all again in the other direction.

The walk had plenty of coffee shop (and now she knows the toilet) stops, eateries and seateries along the way.  Great exercise, history and culture, and a little bit of everything thrown in between.

It is a tough time, a really tough time, but I can still get out and discover the very best of London, continue to learn and plan for next year when you are all going to come and visit me!

 

 

 

 

 

The Birthday. How to feel thirty with thirty years ago.

The last of the Birthday roses, verlep as the Afrikaners would say –  such a lovely word that, verlep.  Like the floppy giving into the last showing before compost.  Limp, but still lovely, and I have held onto them for two weeks, a reminder of the birthday day.

Sitting here tonight, much has happened, but one of the main reasons I am now in the midst of one of those gloriously, gusty, frigging gales of an English storm, post repatriation, dodging Covid and all the other horrible scenes of this year, is that I really could not face my birthday, being far from my family.  How times have changed.  Me, the Birthday giving Queen of all that is performance and splendour of the birthday genre, simply had to be close to my family when I turned the big one after sixty.

Sixty was the game changer.  Part relieved that I had made it to the number, and part, here comes the sodding downward spiral – I can’t even really say it, that I am sixty, and now, it’s plus one and the verlepness is more prevalent than ever.  A bit like the roses, officially the extra cast member in the play of life, the one you find in the background, like the wife of the tavern or the midwife, all round and flushed, whilst romance, sex and driving ambition is left to the central characters. I was not going to self verlep on my own, an ocean away from my children.

Moments of self wallowing are so permitted in my life.  I am the queen of wallowing and thrusting my pitiful self to the gods, wailing and cursing the furies.  Quite love that about me.  The birthday was a perfect excuse to regress to Lady Macbethean norm – who wants to be sixty-one, divorced, sort of homeless and just a little bit bitter? My mother at sixty one, dare I say I cannot remember, must have been happy with a small, morning tea party (at that time I was being the egotistical doer of all and called her on her birthday) but some of us, oh we just go on teasing the world and trying to find our part to play, still determined to be a viable character, rather than the settled frau.

I digress. My birthday in London was lovely.  It was worth flying all those miles back to London.  I even got a balloon!

I had forgotten how loved I was.  The day was filled with messages, calls and hugs.  My family spoilt me with breakfast that lasted till dinner and I was in the midst of all my reason.  A day of lovely things and lovely people.

It was me feeling old.  Me, feeling chased by age and possibilities I had not explored, challenges I had not faced.  It was me feeling that time had gone, memories, like fossilised bones, were haunting. It was me being boring, and afraid.

Two weeks has passed and I keep the roses, the balloon is all ballooned out and the gifts linger for my ‘oh dear, when can I travel’, travel. London is quiet, the world is in limbo, but that doesn’t mean I have to fade away to age and doubts and wondering if the next ten years will be one of wine, weight and settling.

Two weeks hence, the fire is still burning, deep in the belly of hope, optimism and growth. Being so very Churchillian about it all, and while some want to pull the statue down, the man is a hero with the cigar. Like so many other amazing people I am discovering more about, starting with great things after the big 60.  We can all decide to settle, be comfortable and pace our little lives like the plodders, or rise to the occasion.

Flip, I felt so old the day before my birthday. Not so much anymore.  To lovely things, and you know, it was the people around me that dribbled the courage from the glass of life into me

PS – little gray covered by safely brown – banished to hectic blond, as it should be, and that is just the beginning…

Happy Birthday to moi – and to all of you.  This is not the settling time, but the kick ass time. To lovely things and strong, deliberate, convicted belief that My Silver Street is not the colour of our hair, but the mercury that lingers in our veins.

Travelling during Covid. September 2020 A soggy day in Bath.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

Welcome to the new world of travel.  It is going to be a bumpy ride, but it will always be worth it. It is an insatiable thirst, once tasted, always needed.  Always wanted.

The thought of not being able to travel again, this year, was a heartbreaking experience, for me.  I decided, it was not going to be – to sit and wonder and dream of places I needed to visit, and be satisfied to stay at home and embrace Covid. For five months, I sat at home, in South Africa, but dared to venture out to explore the little I could and it was life changing, in my own back yard.  Yet the yearning and the not being able to go beyond borders, seemed stifling, controlling even, and a first repatriation flight for me. Fortunately, and through much hardship, I now have two passports.

Back in London, the fingers were tapping for places to go.  I was not fast enough it seems, for the more I looked, the more the borders closed down in Europe.  Quarantine again.  Go close, I thought, mask in hand, go close, and it was Bath to be. And this is where the travel consultant ventured, and learned, and makes sure she can advise her clients about the experience of Covid travel.  It seemed so simple, a train trip to Bath, a budget hotel –  I have been to Bath so many times, but wanted to see how the world, and travel had changed, or adapted to the new way of being.

Of course.  Distance above all.  The saddest Railway station welcome to date.  Ticker tape evidence, everywhere. There is no dining service on the Train, but the journey itself was gorgeous, through Wiltshire, relaxing and letting the countryside whizz by.  If you are looking for assistance on arrival, best to follow the appropriate apps on your mobile, for humans are scare on the ground.

I had arrived early.  In the past, this was no problem and you could either check in early, or leave your bags at the hotel and return for check in.  I say this now in terms of a budget hotel: arrival was an empty reception area.  To call on the phone for assistance.  Skeleton staff doing all the work, and that included the cleaning, so I was a little concerned as to the quality cleaning of my room. That’s ok, I thought, will leave my bag, and venture into rainy Bath for the afternoon.  No leaving of luggage.

NB.  This has not been my experience is upgraded hotels.  One can still leave your luggage pre or post stay.

I make notes:  does Covid travelling exclude Budget hotels with limited staff for a while?

So it was to spend the afternoon walking through Bath with my luggage, backpack and, feeling like a tortoise with a fancy umbrella, ventured across the river into the heart of the city. This is when you realise that life, or the virus, has sucked the last of small coffee shops, little rendezvous havens and though the actual Baths were open, timed tickets were required.  All looked desolate and sad, even the Roman gods on the edge of the pools. Was it just the rain, the only day of rain, that seemed to create such a morose scene? Lack of hoards in summertime visits, but there were a few diehards waiting outside Sally Lunn’s Buns to tuck into tradition and take that ever important Instagram.

As a good travel consultant does, always checking to see where the good eating places are, where the great toilet facilities are, which hotels had actually opened, I was determined to make the best of it.  Despite the rain, the Abbey Hotel offered a great Afternoon tea and lot of sympathy for the bedraggled, wet person I was, with the luggage.

In the midst of Summer, Bath was pouring down. A gap in the sky had me going back to my hotel.  Now the wi-fi was an issue, and bookings for breakfast strictly observed by time slots.  With masks.  And this is the moment of travel, for now. I got soaked in Bath, I had to lug the luggage, but was I sorry I went?  Not for a minute. It was going back to a gorgeous city, with a history of Jane Austen, the Romans, the Crescent,  the beautiful parks and gardens. It rains in England and I can only say, if you travel when it rains, you find other gems you would normally pass by on a sunny day.

So what am I saying? Travel.  Do it anyway.  We get used to the masks and the lonely stations.  We fly and a face quarantine but it will always be worth it.  The summer is coming to an end but there are are so many local places to visit – the Staycation option is brimming and busy – even to the point of struggling to find accommodation. The point is to get out there and experience the best travel can offer, but be beware of the changes and go with the flow.

Loved Bath: parts deserted, other fully functioning. Rain or shine. Check with your hotel before you travel about left luggage and rules.

Flights are cheaper now – specials are really worthwhile. London, where I am based, is open for business. For some, the borders may still be closed, but wherever you are, support your local tourism and visit.  It is so essential that we get tourism back on its feet, for all of us.  So maybe you need to adapt, we all are, and the more we do, the sooner we get to travel the way we used to.

First trip down. Different but lovely. Dare I say this, but maybe spend a little more for upmarket hotels that offer more in the way of comfort at this time.

Oh, and Italy is still open … guess where I’m going next …

I cannot imagine my life without travel.  Don’t intend to.

 

Do we really begin to feel so old, or do others make us so?

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ― Sophia Loren

It has been a while since writing, much has happened and mostly the superior irritation of feeling a lot older than I normally do.

I berate myself for doing this, but as much as I tried, the weariness and physical inability to dance through the moments, left me not only hobbling and frayed, but spiritually bereft. All my own doing …

At first, lockdown had me at ‘once again’ transforming everything.  Walking and, oh dear Lord, trying to become a runner without having trotted for a million years.  ‘Besimpled’ is all I can say.  Would it be karma at her wittiest, in bestowing me with ‘runner’s knee’?  One minute I felt the twinging of my right knee cap and before you could say, ‘we can have wine again’ I was hobbling to the Physio therapist for treatment.  ‘You have Runner’s knee.’  ‘You have to be kidding!’ Pain central.

This was not enough however, I was shifting to the London mode.  Time to return to the wee bairns (now seriously in no need of mother’s attention), signed a lease, took a repatriation flight and spent three weeks, with the wounded knee, living out of a suitcase.  Moving to a new house – falling down the stairs. I am Methuselah. And I was doing it to myself, feeling like a cripple without fitness, no energy, lots of depression and basically, deeply unsatisfied, hurting and unhappy.

The injury heals and the energy returns.  Which made me wonder if I was just plain feeling my age, dear God, or sinking into the acceptance and telling everyone that I was feeling old and miserable, and thus began to be treated thus?

Yesterday two things happened.  The first was a darling elderly gentlemen, who has yet to work out the wearing of a mask on the bus, or defiant perhaps, escorted by I surmise, his wife, who verbally  erased him from any form of independence.  A two year old had more freedom of choice, how to get on the bus, where to sit, how to sit, what was in front of him, outside the window – it was horrible to watch and the more she babied, the smaller he became.  The same happened in a coffee shop.  Two women in their thirties I think, brought in their mother.  Brought, it was more like escorted, plonked down on a chair, positioned and decided what was best for her to drink. The more they ignored her, only to order her to drink up, the smaller she became, and I knew I had done that to my own mother, not so long ago.

Why do we do that?  It’s a patience thing I guess and I was treating myself equally so, having no patience with this injury, transferring the frustrations of a lame leg and moving into a state of believing I was to old to cope. Resisting the change, even though I had brought it upon myself?  Looking for sympathy and then feeling sidelined because others had no patience with me? Physically, things will take a little longer – I doubt I would qualify now for things I would not have qualified for two decades ago.

But I was pissed off yesterday.  We are dealing with such ageism anyway and now, spirits sink at every turn when we are made to feel smaller, and I just hate that we fall for it. We accept that those younger are so much smarter and can stream, beam anywhere, virtual this and drink us under the table, but maybe we just secretly don’t want to know and do all those things anymore.  Champion of the Boat race drinking at University was sort of my highlight and now Mommy cuddles the bottle of wine, not because she has become a stereotype, but perhaps sometimes this world had just become so super boring.  We have cooked, cleaned, bathed, soothed, medicated, worked, travelled, loved and lived in full technicolour, thank you.  Kudos to Hugh Grant and Colin Firth who both turned 60 this week, the heart can still flutter and maybe more so that the looks are chiselled rather than winsome.

‘Ageing is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.’  David Bowie.

As to the question, yes.  We allow ourselves to feel old, become morose and think we have passed our time and wallow, and yes, others do make us feel old and we allow them too.

I will never wear the purple hat and fall into the stereotypes we tend to, but dammit, I allowed myself to think my life, romance, experiences and everything else, was over, because I struggled to walk, moved into a new house, take three buses to work and wore a knee brace on a nine hour shift.

And I am looking back at the pictures – not to feel sorry for myself, but to teach myself that granny frocks and socks and trainers and not really my style, so why the hell did I think my age made it acceptable?

If you are reading this with some delightful socks and crocks … you know what I mean.

Cheers!

 

 

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Summer heat and finding my feet.

If Lucifer is testing me, am not ‘going to pull ‘a Karen’, but Hades, it’s hot!  London and heat like this has us wilting at sunrise and crisp by even fall.  32 degrees at seven pm – how are you holding out? What are you doing to keep cool?

George has been semi comatose all day.  Feet in cold water, feeding of the ice cubes, poor little fellow.  I have resorted to freezing grapes and juice, cold showers on the hour and still the glow has turned to ditch digging sweat. Still, its great to be back in London. From the alcohol ban in South Africa to this – Lucifer has been busy.

Patiently waiting for the International boarders to open, the wait is ongoing.  Decided to do a ‘repatriation’ flight back to the UK.  The prospect was daunting with all the rules and regulations and I was in a total panic; what if the temperature was a little high, the document a little missing … this was all a non-refundable exercise.  No going directly to the airport, loaded on buses and single file, we returnees were ushered onto the flight.  Gone were the lovely uniforms, replaced by white suited, visor clad and mask wearing crew. Understandable.  Worst airline food in history – no hot food, no coffee – day old smashed chicken and a slice of cheddar on a stale bun. Moving on.  Then there was the delightful ‘you must register with the UK government and quarantine threat.’ No-one at the airport to check.  All the drama for nothing – I think most airlines are stepping up to the ‘repatriation’ game to just get back into the air (at a hefty fare of course.)

Don’t blame them.  Let the world open up now thank you!  It has been too long, very sad and life changing, but too long. So what did you do in the months of not being allowed to step outside, stop working or work from home.  How did it work for you?  Are you still employed?  Many face redundancy and worse, many over fifties are now facing an uphill battle to find work.  Don’t stop going for it, it will happen.  This is just the time to re-evaluate and perhaps change direction. Is there something you have always wanted to do but feared for it at the same time?  Now is the time.  This lady is in the tourism business.  The tourism business is on it’s knees right now, and it breaks my heart, but I remain optimistic that it will pick up again.  That doesn’t mean I am not looking in different directions for something to add to my working life.  If weddings are on hold, I have seen wedding photographers change course and are giving virtual lessons, doing family shoots … you know what I mean.  It isn’t easy, and that is why, once again, I am finding my feet in a new dynamic, in a new world so to speak.

Challenging, but exciting at the same time. Finding you feet is what it is all about.  Doubt if I will ever be hired as a CEO in the next few months, but Lordy Lord, do I want to do that?  Rather be a dog walker (when it gets cooler).  No, it is not going to be easy, but it is going to be a path of discovery and DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU OTHERWISE. If I am a typical Karen, than it is only because no is not a word I have a place for anymore.  Over the past few years, I have had enough no’s to build a fountain – base of no’s ,water of tears, but I have put that angel right on top.

As Dory would say, ‘just keep swimming’.

A darling friend, who like me has had an interesting, if never to be repeated, past few years.  She took her maintenance and bought a Guest House in December.  World crashing, I asked her how she was coping.

‘After what we have been through, this virus is nothing.’  That’s the spirit boss girl, that is the baby steps to success.

Not quite going to dive into the Thames, but a paddling pool in the living room is looking ever so attractive.

Hello lovelies … it’s going to be a great time.  I have been lying low, sort of if you have nothing to say, don’t spill the banal onto pretty ears, but now, oooh, now there is so much to say, do and discover.

Watch this space and get inspired in your own Silver Street – such a cool avenue.

Images: The Standard

 

 

 

 

Keeping faith and those French cafés.

C’est possible!

Saturday afternoon and I am onto my bigillionth cup of tea. Am a viable little teapot of late. Morning tea, blah mid-morning tea, after lunch tea … afternoon tea… it goes on and on and on. Count tea before I can count the wine. Dream of coffee. Dream of coffee on the sidewalks of Paris, which since this week, is possible again. Who would have thought, those tightly packed cafés, a breath from the person next to you, facing forward and viewing the world with a great little noisette, would be back in business? Can’t keep a good thing down.  Drinking coffee at home, during the lockdown, just isn’t the same n’est pas? Paris has come to life again, and plans made, sidewalks widened, tres interesting head gear in place,  the romance may be tainted, but not forsaken. Talking of inspiration, I have my little list this week.

Getting away, when I can get away. It’s to the beaches, the mountains, the cities. Until it actually happens, here’s to dreaming of Europe’s beaches. This of course, may have to wait until next year, and I shall never complain about Easyjet ever again. Much to complain about of course, nothing like the six am flight from Gatwick to lose one’s faith in humanity, big time; having to reduce luggage befitting a sparrow on route to the sun, the security snarls, stripping and apologising for whatever because you are convinced you must be guilty of some heinous crime. Not to mention the lovely louts in airspace, drinking largers in slipslops and the greasy spoon offerings before being shoved into a seatless space whilst the Speedy borders bully their way in front of you. I digress, I will not complain of Easyjet again for she can get me to the beaches of Shirley Valentine and Donna Sheridan. Low Budget airlines do test the faith, but I am keeping the faith to get to travel again. Hold that plane!

Whilst the rest of the world slowly returns to a semblance of what we know, the focus for me, rather than be pessimistic (and I have my moments), is instead on the amazing resilience all around. The last to be allowed to resume to business are the Hospitality, Wedding and Events and Beauty industries. You can imagine what the hair looks like now – think Charles Manson, but even in this faith remains for rescue. Many restaurants have turned to delivery services, setting up shop outside to serve customers. Entrepreneurs are offering online courses, writing great articles and making videos to keep their livelihoods relevant whilst holding out for salvation – it will come.

We will always want to go somewhere special to celebrate, meet friends. Weddings will happen. All will be well, if but in a different form.

We are still here. We have planning and projects to explore. Face realities of what still exists and what we can salvage out of what is not working anymore.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Brene Brown. Keeping the faith is key. Believing that we can rise, change, deliver and drag ourselves up from the floor over and over again, is what makes each of us unique and valuable.

Adding bookmarks of inspiration to daily life, is what it means to plan forward, rather than be stuck in the disappointment of the time. We need creativity, innovation and regeneration now. New careers are out there, it may be a first for you, doing something you never dreamed of.

Think outside the box, if the box of your life has a lid on it. No matter our age, we are all going to have to be inventive – no-one is immune to change and this mother of all change has many of us in the starting blocks, running a new race. I’m ready and impatient to start. And then to the beach and a stop at the Café de Flore.

 

Image: Christophe Petit Tesson