Beside the Danube.

Musings and thanksgivings of a twenty-something.

Moving day!

Please update your bookmarks. This blog has officially moved! 

I’m very proud of my new online journal, which I managed to administer and organise all by myself. It also allows comments (!) and is (I think) quite pretty! 

See you there: http://frauleinlouise.blogspot.co.uk

On London.

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Sometimes I secretly loathe London. Loathe the struggle of bodies, each pushing up against each other, with no respect for the space of another. Loathe the grimy streets, writhing with dirt and emanating a sticky, sweat-like heat. I loathe the shouting families on holiday, the bun-fight that is the tube on any weekday evening, Piccadilly on a weekend, the impossibility of getting where you need to be in a hurry. 

But then.

Then, almost inexplicably, I fall in love with London all over again.

I fall in love with the South Bank on a Friday evening: cyclistsen masse ringing their tin bells joyfully, happy families eating pizza from riverside food trucks, the daily book market right beside the National Theatre where I always browse and Will always buys. Fall in love with the city’s unique oddities, all its own – an unknown man, just another of London’s anonymous citizens, walking his pet ferret (ferret!!) down the Strand. The troupe of uniformed, Portuguese Girl Scouts cooing girlishly over their first glimpse of Buckingham Palace through the swaying trees of Green Park. Fall in love with the city beaches, no doubt teeming with dirt and infection, at sunset, yet still glorious in their urban, amber glow. 

I fall in love with you, sitting opposite me on the dawdling Met line as the train rolls across the bridge towards Finchley. The Shard, majestic and elegant in all its modernity, sits behind – to your left – and your glasses are falling towards the end of your nose. You look up and smile, your cheek dimpling on just the one side, and I fall in love. With you, with the city, with the slow slow Metropolitan line as it swings into the city for the umpteenth time. 

* photograph captured by my talented sister from the top of Monument.

Graduation!!!!!!!!!!!

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The last few days have been a blur of giddy, indescribable, bittersweet celebration. We graduated!!! Driving into Bristol with my parents (in tears - I was nervous!) four years ago seems both another time, another place - and to have passed in a click of the fingers. Both an eternity and no time at all.

The day passed in a hazy, dazzling and wonderful fog of thirty-degree heat - the startling light and the steaminess of the air bathing the day in nostalgia even as it was happening. In my mind the day is made up of jewel-like moments, strung together on the necklace of time. Moments which I hope to always remember.

The moment I woke up and didn’t remember it was graduation day. Getting up and realising, all at once, that - oh! I need to be in the car already! Where are my shoes? And is this really happening? The early morning drive to Bristol chatting with my mother. And the scramble to change into my monochrome dress (as rules stipulate) in a petrol station bathroom on the side of the motorway. Pulling up onto Woodland Road and darting out of the car to join the lengthening ticket queue. The rising anticipation as I waited in line and caught sight of the faces of so many cherished friends. Jack was the first classmate I saw in his gown, as he strolled over with his boyfriend, and I could hardly contain my excitement. I think I even jumped!

And more moments. Walking up the stairs with my newly fitted gown to find Will waiting by the staircase. The buzz of the crowd growing outside the Wills’ building. The call for all graduates to take their seats. Waiting in the corridor to be presented. The sweltering heat and the endless photographs, the German department photograph - with voices shouting and the teachers laughing, and the arms of friends draped over each other. The sunset walk across the Downs, which felt like the end of an era. Despite the dreamlike feeling which bracketed the day’s event (‘four years and this is it?’), the whole affair felt so historic - as if imprinting itself on my memory even as it was playing out before me.

Postscript: Thank you so much to my amazing parents for encouraging me throughout my education, and always supporting me, and for listening to the occasional late-night telephone call of essay desperation. I’m so grateful to have met so many interesting, lovely people during my degree and can’t thank the German department enough for being so friendly and fun!

Things I’m thankful for

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The world is in bloom.

Summertime bike rides on my mother’s super-fast bicycle.

The inspiration the weekend newspaper provides.

Colourful summer salads with kidney beans and iron-rich pulses.

Lying in the garden with a cat curled around my legs.

Freckled noses.

Really really good, really really strong homemade coffee.

Ordering the same meal for a starter and main course (it was just too good!)

Time to read multiple books at once.

Blue skies which have no beginning or end.

A newly-organised room.

Riding the tube with my favourite people for company.

Ripe and juicy fruit.

Ellie’s secret London knowledge (that girl knows all of the best places!)

The invention of SPF and a wide-brimmed straw hat.

The breezy, dreamy, easy 28C we’re basking in today.

* Alternate title: The return of Friday thanksgivings.

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Building an undulating park on the side of the motorway into London may sound like a harebrained idea, but somehow - it works. From the top of the hill you can see the famous silhouette of the city skyline, bathed in smog, and there’s nothing like the feeling of running down a dune - even when you’re miles from the sea. Our spontaneous sunset visit felt like summer encapsulated, in the very best way.