Bath. A friend from Copenhagen is visiting, and I’ve taken Friday off work to go to Bath with her; we jump on an early bus from Victoria Station and spend the morning and afternoon roaming around the romantic old limestone-clad fairytale town, loving the fact that we move and experience at exactly the same pace (like when I’m with Sanoop). Get excited about the same impressions. See, do, and generally sense a lot in a short amount of time, but not too much. Munch on wholesome, flavoursome salads from Beyond the Kale whilst lounging in the soft grass of a small, neat park, surrounded by picnicking school kids. Sip on incredibly heavenly coffee in Colonna & Small’s idyllic courtyard. Check out the splendour of the Royal Crescent and the leafy Circus. Drool over the delicious home decor and art curation at 8 Margaret’s Building and @francisgallery. Flick through most of the alluring periodicals and novels at @magalleriabath and @toppingsbath. Skip joyfully along the lush riverside, smiling at the sweeping water vistas. Talk and laugh deeply and often. Take breaks too. Gaze upwards in awe of the artistic and engineering skills displayed across the Bath Abbey ceiling. Immensely enjoy the impressive tour of the Roman Baths — and the visual and flavour explosion at @acornrestaurant. Soak up the sun and fresh air. What an energising breather of a steamy summer’s day! We leave late that night thinking that we want to return. Soon. With more time, and everyone we love.
Outtake from Colonna and Small’s. Sublime coffee experience. In the small, quaint courtyard. My friend and I at one table. A pair of college student girlfriends at the table at the centre of the small rectangular space. A girl at the far end of the space, bent over a notebook, sketching, taking notes, thinking, reading, smiling to herself and the air. The girls in the middle have a conversation that sends bubbles of stimuli through my brain — the timelessness elements mixed with the very current. Mundane — yet / and so — of utmost anthropological importance. I want to capture it so it doesn’t just disappear into the air. Such a precious moment in time. They are both slim and carry themselves well. Look confident and carefree. One is wearing a see-through white top with short cropped denim jeans. Long straight brown hair. The other has a curly bob, strawberry blonde. She’s wearing a yellow top over white shorts. The first admires the latter’s top. Oh, thanks, it’s from last year. I got it off a New Style sale, £3. Well, it’s very flattering. You’ve got nice boobs. Thanks, yes, I do have nice boobs. Yours is nice too, your top. Thanks, I was gonna not wear a bra, but my top is basically transparent, and I’m seeing my mum later, you know, my mum as well. Well, I love your mum. Oh, she loves you too. She always says that you’re the only one of my friends that she can have a normal conversation with. I really want our mums to meet. I think they’d really get along. And so would our dads. And our brothers; Bobby would really like Jake. But yeah, with our mums, you can just talk normally, like, horizontally. It’s like, everyone else talks to their mum as if they’re really a mum. Yeah. Oh, so many people are putting me in their stories. What? Yeah, their instagram stories. See. Haha, that’s hilarious. Well, I don’t mind it so much. The other day I discovered that a casting director from New York started following me so now I can’t just put any random shit up anymore. That’s really annoying. There was this hilarious thing I wanted to repost, but it just wouldn’t work.
Saturday. My friend and I enjoy a long, slow breakfast with eggs and spinach and coffee at home, after a blissful yoga session. Run to Primrose Hill via Belsize Park. Take the overground to Shoreditch, drinking coffee at Allpress, picking up food-to-go at As Nature Intended, roam around Spitalfields. Take the Tube to Regent Street, where the Pride Parade is on, and then walk to Exmouth Market for al fresco dining with aperol spritz outside Pizza Pilgrim (perfect cheese-free sourdough pizzas!). Head over to Sadler’s Wells for a beautiful dance performance: Sara Baras is twirling away with an insatiable energy and passion that makes the second circle of the theatre feel like a bench on a plaza in Seville! Such presence, emotion, vitality! Sweeping arm movements, straight silhouette, elongated spine, shoulders held back, wildly impressive legwork, endless rhythmic foot stamping. Such immense power, force, strength. Control. Glow. Grace. Zest for life.
Sunday. Walk my friend to the tube in drizzly weather, feeling a sense of deep happiness, joy, gratitude, excitement. Saying goodbye, looking forward to when we’ll meet again, walking home and stepping into the Heath just for a quick green breath. Then home to Sanoop to spend the day with him, reading, doing life admin, dancing around the flat. In the late afternoon we go to The George, a surprisingly lovely pub, which looks a bit dodgy on the outside, but is very quaint and well-kept and flower-filled on the inside. Here we watch the women’s soccer World Championship final, USA vs. Netherlands; America wins. For dinner we make a buddha bowl at home.
Random glimpses of London happiness. Barre each morning at Barrecore in Hampstead. Monday: rooftop cinema at my office — we all sit on beanbags with catered food and headphones. Meet a friend for dinner at Barrafina, Coal Drops Yard. Sanoop and I catch a show at the Old Vic — Present Laughter, it’s called, starring Andrew Scott, whom I’d been looking forward to seeing live … but it’s just … too much drama. We leave the theatre feeling heavy. Friday: Heath picnic. Sunday: pub roast with friends.
Hen-do. “The sparkly green sequin dress you wore the first time I met you. That Friday night when I accompanied your boyfriend home, way too late for his own birthday party after yet another way too long work day. You weren’t mad, though, and I can’t count how many times, over the past 7 years since then, you’ve welcomed me into your cosy home in Angel with open arms, open wine bottles, contagious positivity, and sparkly dresses! All of the fun times all over… East London, Somerset, South East Asia. From your wine (actual) marathons in France to those legendary regattas in Denmark to your Lady Gaga renditions at Piano Bar to your Larry Fink and Warren Buffet interviews in New York and Omaha respectively; your creativity, curiosity and zest for life keeps inspiring me. Happy to meet some of the lovely motley crew you’ve created around you — a hen party with roots in Bangalore, Paris, Athens, Düsseldorf, somewhere in Lithuania and various Danish islands. Missing your glow and optimism already. Copenhagen is lucky to have you, and we’re very excited for the next — wedding day — boat ride (my captain services are always at your disposal;))” — the note I send a friend who moved to Copenhagen from London a few months ago, but who came back for a weekend this month to have a hen-do with her London-based friends. The day involves a hot tub with champagne on the Thames. Next time I see her will be for her wedding in Copenhagen in August, where the ceremony will be conducted on a canal boat.
Zürich. A week’s work trip to this gorgeous Swiss town, where people are swimming in the lake, my hotel has a rooftop jacuzzi pool overlooking the Alps, and my colleagues are wonderful.
San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Landing in San Jose. Don’t think I’d quite understood it … going to California. Haven’t been in Northern California since I was 15, on a family road trip. As such, the sights of Golden Gate, Twin Peaks, Lombard Street, Fillmore Street, Pier 41, Palo Alto, and Stanford immediately makes me think of my parents and my brother and how much I love and miss them. Now I’m here on a work trip (who would have thought that??!), with my wonderful colleagues. Three of us are on the same plane from London, and as we step out of the airport and into the dry, pine-fragrant, sunset-orange air, we hail the same Uber to the apartment complex near the office, where we’re staying for a week. The apartments are spacious, airy, clean, and well-equipped, and there’s a pool between them! We walk over to a nearby organic grocery store, where I pick up some fresh fruits, veggies, rice crackers, almond milk, and vegan ice cream. Then we head back to the lodgings and sleep. Jet-lag buddies. I wake up at 4 and call Sanoop. Do the 5 Tibetans. At 5am I receive a message from one of my colleagues, asking if I want to go for a barre class at a nearby studio at 6am. Sure! I spend the rest of the week (and year) trying to process the idea that a business trip can involve cycling around in dry pine-fragrant air under a glorious Californian sun on a colourful lock-free bike between delightful meetings and inspiring talks, alluring food trucks, lush greenery, and thousands of sweet, creative colleagues from & feeling a sense of belonging in various parts of the world.
LA. When the work week ends, one of my colleagues and I head down to LA for the weekend. We’re sharing an airbnb in Venice. Morning runs and yoga on the beach. Go cafe-hopping on Abbot Kinney. Watch Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in Santa Monica. Meet colleagues for dinner in Korea Town. Go for a downtown wander in sweltering heat — it’s so hot that we don’t have patience for the long queue outside the Broad, so rather than seeing art … we head to West Hollywood to do some shopping. Come back to Venice to read on the beach. Meet a friend from Singapore, who’s in town for a dance audition, for some more cafe-hopping on Abbot Kinney. My colleague and I check out our two local offices, which are both gigantic architectural masterpieces. When we finally head back to London on the Monday morning, we’re both very ready to go home.