London, and back in Cape Town

I was so exhausted from the previous night’s “sleep” (God knows how I managed to sleep at all between the snoring, the dog, the cramped loveseat I was sharing with Jimmy, the fact that there was no heat, a massive headache, the list could go on) that once I got on the plane I fell asleep almost immediately and slept the entire trip minus the dinner because I was starving.

So, my first time in the UK in I think 10 years! For some reason the universe conspired against my meeting up with any of the people that I know in London. The original plan was to be there Saturday and hang with my friend Chris, and drink wine, and meet his young daughter. But, that was not to be. Another friend was somewhere traveling (“miles away …” as I emailed back – so anachronistic! Miles!), and another was in lectures, and well I didn’t really have time to contact any others so. There I was.

Also there I was with not just my laptop but a whole carry-on because Virgin Atlantic has some stupid baggage policy. Really, what does it matter if a bag is in the hold or the cabin? Weight distribution was the party line but I think it’s just silliness.

Nonetheless, I was determined to have a good time but I didn’t really have any sort of plan whatsoever. So I got off the Tube at Holborn which is where the Ask Jeeves offices still are (I didn’t stop up because I don’t believe I know anyone who still works there and if I did it might be a little bit scary). I walked around the neighbourhood for a good bit, because there were some really cute areas not far from where we worked that I wanted to check out again, but pretty soon I got hungry so I stopped for some breakfast and coffee.

I was thinking of hitting up a CrossFit gym on a third continent but I actually wasn’t feeling that well so I thought better of it and instead hiked around for a bit: from the Tate Modern across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s (I happened to be wearing a St Paul’s sweatshirt that day, and it was really cold actually – just above freezing!), down to the Tower of London and the London Bridge, then took the Tube to Westminster and checked Westminster Abbey, before going to one of my favourite places in London: St James’ Park. I walked around that for a bit, noting the dove with one black feather (wonder if that means anything), and thought that the park looks a darn sight better in the spring, although one tree was blooming. It was obviously confused.

Next I walked up to Buckingham Palace which I never really looked at when I used to go there all the time. So many places I didn’t have the time (or energy, at this point my residual illness + cold temperatures + actually my knee that I sprained was acting up) to visit. I used to love going to Kensington and walking around, or up in Russell Square where I used to stay, or the British Museum …. But I was short on time so I headed back to the Thames to catch some photos of the London Eye and backlit photos of Parliament (should have thought of that earlier in the day, d’oh), before going by Belgo for dinner and, yes, a passionfruit beer. Couldn’t resist that one, and it was surprisingly good.

The wine bar underneath the Jeeves offices was still there as is the Starbucks (and Belgo!), but our local pub that I can’t even remember the name of is gone, replaced by some nondescript restaurant. Shame, I have so many happy memories of that place … I did not attempt to find the other place where, after too many gin & tonics, I agreed to read Harry Potter.

This being London and the northern hemisphere, it got dark around 4:30pm so I finished up with dinner and headed back to the airport. The security took all of 5 minutes and I didn’t even have to take my shoes off. While I’m at it, why do the U.S. and U.K. have different restrictions on allowed volume of liquids? 100ml is not 3oz. Just sayin’.

Also while I’m at it, Virgin was a way better airline 10 years ago in pretty much every way possible. Except the lines are shorter now. Guess cost pressures really have increased!

So as some of you may know in around 1999 I seriously considered moving to London. But for whatever reason inertia took over and I never actually took the steps required to have done so. Going back now I remembered why I had felt this way about it but I also realised that the feelings I felt back then and had echoed just now absolutely pale in comparison to how I feel for South Africa now. I like the U.K. but I often describe SA as being more like home than home, and I most certainly have never felt at home in the U.K. So: nice place to visit but probably not a place for me to be living.

Some places just have an energy about them. My mother once said in relation to I think Washington D.C., that it clearly had an energy to it but not one she was attuned to. I have heard that Cape Town has a spiritual special energy to it, and I don’t know about that but what I definitely know now is that I must consciously increase my energy when I leave this place, and actually I am not really sure how to do that yet. Despite everything, and I mean everything, I was practically giddy when I looked at the mountains here again. Strange, yes, and obviously gives me more to ponder. I guess you can only ask why so far as it goes, and sometimes you just need to accept how things are. You can’t make yourself feel something, or not feel something. You can, of course control how you handle the situation that is caused by your feelings and this is an area where clearly I could be doing better but then again, I’m human, and who can’t say the same thing about themselves anyway?

Speaking of odd coincidences, I finally kicked the last residual bits of illness on the plane to Cape Town. When I woke up about 3 hours out of town I realized I was actually, finally, 100% better. Not 95% or 99% or no fever and close enough to try and work out. I actually fully recovered from illness … on an airplane. Now who can say that?

Well, life is hard. I was also welcomed home to my apartment by a friend who had been housesitting, and by my showerhead deciding to come off the wall and create Lake 18 Chudleigh Court in the bathroom. C’est la vie. Nothing too much more interesting happened in the afternoon: we went out to lunch, I had my last latte for a while (time to get serious again!), I caught up on email, and went by Cape CrossFit for my first workout back at my home box. Glad I did, actually, the power cleans felt really light and I did pretty well on the complex we did after that, it was 3 reps of a variety of movements at a given weight and I did it with 43kgs, and failed at 45 but actually 45kgs is probably pretty close to my 3RM for push press anyway, and I was a bit tired, and managed to be both dehydrated and bloated at the same time. Plane travel will do that to you!

Dinner was roast chicken, roasted butternut in coconut oil, and salad. And Delaire Sauvignon Blanc. Also accompanied by some great conversation: about power dynamics, the morality of speeding, and cults. Among other things.

When I was in Boston, Cape Town felt like it was very, very distant. Now that I’m back, Boston doesn’t actually feel so far away even though I know that it is. I am grateful that the days are lasting a little longer around here, that the heat wave is over, and that I’m generally healthy although I’m looking forward to some real discipline in all aspects of my life over the coming weeks. Vacation’s over. It’s time to step my game up. We’ve been talking about it for ages but talk is cheap: 2011 is here.

“Let the games begin.” – Peter
“Telepathy is perfectly natural.” – The Celestine Prophecy
“Tomorrow the storm begins.” – Ellie



  1. My dad used to live near the British Museum (Bury Place), and I stayed at the Hotel Russell (the cheap places were booked, and Expedia got me a good deal) for my dads funeral, so I'm somewhat familiar with the Russell Square area. When did you live there?

    One thing that amazed me about the square itself was how people were using the park, and how many incompatible activities were taking place.. sitting, talking, kicking a ball, dog exercising, and racing model dune buggies all happening at once.

  2. I think I stayed at the Hotel Russell once but I preferred the Posthouse Bloomsbury because they had some really high-end rooms on the second floor for pretty cheap. But I was never living there – just commuting from San Francisco…

    Does bring back some nice memories though. London rain, walking around Covent Garden, all you can eat sushi, the Canadian pub, the place Chris & I went that was a front for the mob. Ahh, those were the days! 😉

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