This weekend a friend of mine arrived for our flat warming party and with her she brought one of the most thoughtful and lovingly crafted gifts I think I have ever had the pleasure to receive. This lovely friend has recently started working for a big supermarket and over the past few weeks had collected up every box of fruit, black and herbal tea that had been rejected from the shelves because of a small rip, or dent, or mark on the packaging… the result was a beautifully schmushed up box of delights and inside was everything from peppermint to dragon fruit, all packed up with love in a big pink box. An undeniably Lovely Thing.
Last week I asked Lovely followers to take a moment to ‘look up’. Originally this was intended to draw attention to the glorious autumn skies that we so often forget to remember this time of year. Happily, people took the brief into their own hands and I received not only golden sunsets and cloudy skies but gilded theatre ceilings and sparkling city street lights… observe.
Well now that’s better… Lovely Things has been more than a bit neglected over the past few months. In fairness I was a little busy graduating and moving house and flying to Ghana and then trying to persuade the American government to give me a visa but all that’s done now! And for those of you who missed my last post, I have just spent the last month going up and down to London trying to find a job and a house and all that sort of thing and happily, I can now say that that’s all done too! There was a great deal of doing make-up on trains and packing and unpacking of boxes and who knows how many million emails were sent but on Tuesday morning I move into a lovely little London flat, the following week I start rehearsals for my first professional acting gig and… well, after that who knows!
Anyway, I thought the blog needed a bit of a bit of love and attention. It was covered in virtual cobwebs and there was definitely a mouse living in one of the drop down menus. So I’ve spruced it all up with a nice new Autumnal background and I cannot wait to start looking for more Lovely Things to share. Speaking of which, the background photograph is one I took in Bath around this time last year. I love looking up at the moment, the skies and the sunsets and the trees and their branches just look so beautiful this time of year. So I thought, for my first order of business, I would open up Lovely Things to my lovely readers and ask you to send in a photograph…
‘Look up’ is the brief. Send your photographs to email@example.com by Saturday 9th November giving your name and a few details about the photo and next Sunday I will post them all up together.
It’s nice to be back… now go take pictures of the sky!
This is largely what I feel like I have been doing for the past few weeks. In reality, I do now have a flat in London but I don’t actually move in until early November. So, for most of October I have been doing the commuter thing going up and down on the train for auditions: attempting to understand the tube, slowly learning to love buses and last weekend, exploring Hackney.
I was staying in a gorgeous little ground floor flat in Homerton belonging to my beautiful friend Bec and her boyfriend. The place was filled with lovely old furniture, interesting artwork and to top it all off, a big comfy bed. I will hold my hands up and say that I am a massive snob when it comes to ‘crashing’ at peoples houses. I can just about do an air matress but I really do hate sleeping on sofas. It makes me grumpy. And crumpled… in equal measure. But Bec and her boy were away last weekend so I briefly borrowed their East London life for a couple of days.
I had travelled down on the Friday for a couple of auditions over the weekend and that evening, after receiving a decent sized handful of rejections all in one day, I was feeling a little less than optimistic about my impending London life . So the next morning I decided that a bit of exploring was in order, to take my mind off things, and off I trotted towards the station. My travel plans however, were quickly dashed on arrival as I discovered that there were no trains running over the weekend. “Go to bus stop M.” the lady behind the desk instructed me, and not wanting to reveal my secret actually-from-Oxfordshire identity, I smiled and nodded nonchalantly and walked off in the opposite direction… where the hell is bus stop M!? I thought. This place has a million bus stops. What if there’s more than one bus stop M? What if someone has vandalised the bus stop W sign to make it look like bus stop M? What if there isn’t a bus stop sign at all… Turns out it was just round the corner but then of course when I got there I had no idea where any of the places listed on the bus stop actually were. The top two choices were Dalston and Hackney town centre, and at that moment I vaguely remembered a Razorlight lyric that warned ‘Don’t go back to Dalston.’ So I thought I’d better play it safe and head for Hackney instead. Hackney, I had heard, is where the hipsters hang out. So I got on a bus and hopped off when I started to see large numbers of beanie hats and unusually oversized glasses – London Fields. (If you’re reading this and chuckling to yourself that that last sentence was obviously for comic effect… oh my friend. You clearly haven’t been to Hackney.)
Within thirty seconds I was surrounded by bespoke custom cup cakes and vintage dresses, gourmet street food and the smell of freshly ground coffee. The country girl in me was a little confused… everyone here is so lovely. This isn’t the fast paced urban jungle I was so worried about – this girl ices cakes for a living!? So I dutifully bowed to social pressure, bought a vintage liberty print skirt and headed off to a little independent cafe round the corner for some lunch and a coffee. The previous day’s rejections were soon a distant memory. There’ll be more auditions, I told myself. Other opportunities. And sure enough, as I sat in that little London cafe, my caffeine fuelled creative brain was busy cooking up ideas for a new music podcast, a short play that I had started working on a few days before and, of course, what shoes I was going to wear with my new vintage skirt…
I think I’m going to be alright in London. I think I’m going to be poor… especially if Broadway Market on a Saturday has anything to do with it. But if these past few weeks are anything to go by, I think I could get used to life in the big city.
It was almost a year ago exactly that I wrote of my travels to Ghana to visit my boyfriend during his Peace Corps service. Well, twelve months have passed, a degree has been completed, a city, a house and many wonderful people have very sadly been left behind, an old room, my old room has been stripped and painted and I find myself sitting in it, surrounded by boxes of childhood treasures, ballet shoes, vintage dresses, stacks of scripts and cookery books, a sewing machine and a brightly coloured collection of fabric.
The last arrived with me yesterday morning after I returned from my second trip to Ghana to go and visit the boy. This time I went prepared, leaving space in my case for a pile of printed material, a bottle of cocoa brandy, several yards of glass beads, two dresses, some trousers, a box of tea and a few other bits and pieces. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to go back to Africa a second time and even more so to have been able to spend three whole weeks being an actual girlfriend, with an actual boyfriend, who I could see and smell and snuggle as much as I wanted.
Back in England, in my oddly cluttered uncluttered room, I am sad, of course. Leaving is always hard but for us, inevitable and not uncommon either and next time there won’t be a goodbye… next time he comes back for good. And maybe it was knowing that that changed things but returning this time felt different. I now have a whole new chapter to start. A move to London, the beginnings of a creative career that has been almost sixteen years in the making, a financial leap of faith that I’m still not sure I’m ready for and what seems like a lifetime of possessions to sort out before I up sticks and leave again.
I have eight months before my boyfriend gets back. Eight months to move, make money, make friends, make contacts and to try to make a name for myself. I also have eight months until I have to leave London, pack my life onto a cargo ship, say goodbye to my friends and family and leave for the United States. A lot can happen in eight months… I just hope it’s all going to fit.
For the last year I have been looking after the loveliest little two, well… now three year old, who lives in Bath with his Mother. I will be so very sad to leave them both as I have loved getting to know their wonderful little family and will truly miss the excitement of purple buses, the standard order of a babycino, Bunny, the magic of trains, the endless slides and of course I’ll also miss late night chats about boys, tea on the sofa, Tigerlilly and so many other lovely things.
My last week in Bath was spent packing and organising and tying up lose ends… but I am so glad that I got the chance for a last day out with my adopted Bath family and what better way to spend it than walking in the sunshine through grassy fields full of goats and lambs. Then, to top it all off, a slice of home-made banana cake… just beautiful. I will miss you both very much.
It has been almost two months since I last updated Lovely Things. The last post, a brief review of a new writing showcase that I organised back in March to get feedback on some of my work, really marked the beginning of the end of my three years here at Bath Spa University but a few things have happened since then…
I begun workshopping the production with the cast. (See how it happened here http://makingswallowsandamazonsbath.wordpress.com/)
I am now in that odd sort of limbo land between finishing my degree and actually graduating, where real life is conveniently on hold while grades are finalised, gowns are ordered and I spend what I have left of my student loan on catching up with friends over coffee and cocktails before we disappear off for the final student Summer.
In some ways I’ll miss being a student. I’ll definitely miss Bath and the life I have here but there are lots of new things to come; different things, scary things, exciting things, and of course, as always… Lovely Things.
This evening, with the help of a fabulous producer, a wonderful cast and the most efficient one-man tech team a director could wish for, I showcased a collection of my own new writing, A Female Triptych, to an audience whose feedback I have just spent the last half hour going through. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so grateful to this many people all at once. I could not have done this alone and it was a real pleasure to sit back tonight and watch it all fall into place. I think the cherry on the cake was the carefully considered and constructive feedback, from every audience member, that I cannot wait to share with the rest of the company. So thank you. To all of you. Amazing experience. Looking forward to the next.
I think I have been busy since as far back as I can remember. Busy and in recent years, stressed. In a way, I like being both of these things… even if one of them means that I can’t eat bread or cheese without looking mildly pregnant and the other that I sometimes realise that it’s been a week since I last washed my hair, or that the bins should have gone out the night before, or that the season has completely changed without me even realising it. All of these things have happened to me recently but the arrival of Spring is one of my favourite times of the year… and this year I almost missed it.
Endless emails and finals and plans for the future have been my world for the last few months, and soon it’ll be Easter when my boy will be back from lands afar for a few weeks. So, before I have eyes only for him, here are a few Lovely Things I have caught a glimpse of this week…