Archive

England

My life has been fairly nomadic the last few years. It took more than a little getting used to having a lease and a flat again, much less finding one in a new country and the joys of opening foreign bank accounts. The first half year seemed a blur of acclimation into a vibrant city full of so many things to do at any given time.

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Central Saint Martins campus where I probably spent most of my time covered in cranes as it became the center of the bourgie home of a Google campus and other improvements.

The neighborhood I was living in was transformed while I was there by the construction of student housing by the largest art university system. My own discomfort at participating in the gentrification and art washing of the neighborhood merely by being there was never quite reconciled. I am glad I did not stay in student housing and enjoyed the Turkish, Somalian and Jewish communities around where I lived.

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The street around the corner full of African and prom dresses on my way to the tube.

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A lot of my time was split on transport split between being in the efficient but black dust filled tube and riding my bicycle on confusing left side of the sound roundabouts and more pleasantly along canals.

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My favorite time to ride my bike was in the quiet of the night without cars. I would run into foxes and this family celebrating Diwali in the park.

Projects sent me to zone 6, the outer reaches of London in many directions throughout the year. I have been and am still interested in these parts of cities. London is full of beautiful museums and world class architecture but I am as curious about the less central and more everyday wonders.

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My love of street signs meets my amusement at very British things.

Part of what brought me to London was the excellent theatre and interactive experience scene. My younger days of frequenting concerts replaced by a mix of experimental things from sound to immersive events to interactive installations. It was what I had come to learn, to see. There was one Janet Cardiff experience that was made in the 90’s and recalled Jack the Ripper days in the neighborhood it was set in. I was equally awed by how much that area had changed since I had been there ten years ago and when I was there then. The same place experienced in one moment in four different times, each so different from the other and yet some things remained.

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Turns out I was too busy in experiences to take photos very often. These are bluetooth speakers for a flash mob orchestra in Birmingham.

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A lot of the fun of being in a very international school with creative people is the joy of hanging out and making stuff. This was my living room wall and recycled paint from the awesome furniture thrift store down the road.

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One of my favorite things in any huge city is the variety of excellent food and the fusions of so many cultures that are there.

The colonial history of the country meant there was excellent Malaysian, African, Mauritian and Middle Eastern food on top of the traditional foods that most British people seemed to be amused that I enjoyed. What’s not to enjoy about meat pies and fried things with beer? I ate many delicious European things as well that seemed to make it over the ocean less often. It was a time when Mexican street tacos, American BBQ and Asian fusion was popular but I did not come to London to eat trends influenced by America.

It was perhaps a little too loud for me but I am grateful for the time I have had here and the amount of exploring I got to do. Funny how I end up living places I don’t think I would. That’s the thing about cities, it’s not about the big thing that may be known for because it is a mix of so many other things going on at once. I am glad I got to see a London so different from the one I knew from visiting.

 

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Prior to living in London I had been to England twice and never really left the general London metropolitan area. I was not going to let that stand and took many train and road trips to see the delightful countryside and seaside towns.

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I headed out to the artsy seaside towns of Bristol and Brixton multiple times. This is from a wander in a park in Bristol.

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All of a sudden why so many British books involved endless gloom and murders that could happen a meter away without anyone seeing made a lot more sense.

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A trip out to Weston-Super-Mare to see the glory of past seaside towns since replaced by cheaper travel to warmer foreign beaches but highlighted again by Dismaland. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many older folk gleeful about being treated by teenagers getting to perform the customer service most people who don’t have a smile glued to their faces probably feel like.

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The beautiful Guy Fawkes celebration in Lewes involved huge fires, pouring rains, and neighborhood groups marching through town with torches and paper mache floats.

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I find great joy in driving down holloways and getting lost on country roads. They aren’t as efficient as the bigger motorway but it doesn’t matter when you aren’t in a rush.

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Long train rides and walks in the countryside are often met with similarly gray skies and meandering sheep in lush greenery everywhere.

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The quaint English village of imagination that existed here seemingly mostly as a tour bus stop.

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Skipping the more popular Stonehenge to visit the more accessible and less crowded Avesbury.

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A castle on the long walk we took on the beach from Broadstairs to Margate, decrepit seaside town turned hipster haven.

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The funny little colorful beach shacks that people kept their kitchens and lawn chairs in.

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A sunset on the bridge back to Victoria station.

I am grateful for the long period in which to be somewhere to take these weekend and day trips that may have, and certainly did get, glossed over in shorter trips to England. London is a bustling modern city with some very historic parts but that doesn’t cover all the other interesting things going on a few hours in every direction. I didn’t even get further than that, another time it would seem.