Travelings: Tales of a fashademic in London
By Rosie Findlay
Clear and grey and crisp here. Long cool days that hint at rain – I've been caught in one torrential downpour already. I had no umbrella so just folded my arms around myself, put my head down and kept walking. As water soaked into my hair, my wool coat, I couldn't help but smile.
Rain is kind of what you expect in England, isn't it?
And rain through a dark night as I strode towards friends and a pub with pear cider on tap and then onto Ottolenghi in Islington with its long tables, its powderpuff boysenberry meringues, its pear soaked in orange-blossom and roquefort and candied macadamia salad... well, what can you do but smile?
I'm twenty-six now, my birthday falling in the hasty days before I got on the plane for 23 hours. And I can't help but feel somewhat grown-up and at home here. There is something both so familiar and so novel about red double-decker buses, about the black cabs with their gently curved chassis, about the dirty white terraces that stand tall on either side of the road.
I walked downtown amidst a flood of people yesterday – a flood. Comparable to the crowds that teem out of a football match or a concert but it was only Wednesday afternoon in Oxford Circus. I've found nook-cafés with coffee that's nice, always made by Australians or New Zealanders, and I feel momentarily parochial until I forget all that in the face of a foaming flat white. Priorities, you know.
A walk in Russell Square, meringues by Ottolenghi, a skim fw at Sensory Lab, wandering around Piccadilly with some friends before lunch, and a neon sign outside Liberty that I wanted to thieve away. (Actually, footnote Liberty: I had a gasping reaction to all of its Edwardian city-block-length glory and I didn't even go in. Something to anticipate.)
Highlights have included a Good Friday feast of avocado and Scottish smoked salmon salad a la Shans, strawberries smashed with raspberry and blackberry meringues, and a white wine from Bourgogne courtesy of my friend Luke. O, and the walk, which was lovely. I don't know if it's possible to tire of seeing London – the buildings, the shops, the museums, the parks, the people. Samuel Johnson said that 'the man who has tired of London has tired of life.' I reckon.
It's a bit ridiculous how wonderful this past week has been. Am waiting for the other shoe to drop – like someone is going to steal my passport or I'm going to find that someone has already written the equivalent of my thesis or something. I mean, how can it be possible to have time like this to enjoy, to try and taste and explore?
I feel like a big wide-eyed cliché but I don't know what the alternative is... I'd have to sit in a corner with my eyes shut to not be simply pleased at the size, the historied grandeur and quiet beauty of this place. All of which is only heightened when you're swimming streets in a washed cotton ocean and butter-firm leather boots with a perfectly almond toe. Too much.
You can see Rosie's splendid London and Paris Diary in full swing at Fashademic.