1. Exploring my current local area.
Mr Story and I are currently renting a flat, in between finding a more permanent flat, in South London. I equate London to a whole collection of towns linked up together – you can know one area, or ‘town’ extremely well, but plonked in another, and you have no idea which way is up, down, sideways or, more importantly, how to get home. I’m currently finding my way around Walworth, and finding out how it slots in next to Camberwell, Kennington, Oval, Vauxhall, Borough, Brixton and all these places that I may have visited once, but I’m lost to find a route through together. Then, on Saturday, I spotted a link on the Londonist website, to a walk from just nearby, around the area, so Mr Story and I went along and joined it. We walked through estates built to be the future utopias, past a Henry Moore sculpture, passed local fetes, past squats of the famous and Britain’s first council house. We were shown where the chartists, Poll Tax protesters and students all met to begin their protests, where the gallows stood, and how, in an overlap in time, you could have caught the tube to see the final hanging that took place there. A woman told us about the subterranean rivers of London, about the beautifully named Effra, and how it’s flooding is now blamed on burst water mains, it’s existence denied. We were told about the pleasure gardens at Vauxhall, and MPs catching the ferry across in the evening, to spend their nights ballooning, eating, drinking and talking walks along the ‘dark path’, before being transported back across the river in time for the start of the morning session. I love these walks. I try to find them in the cities that I visit, because they always give you a sense of a city that you can’t get in any other way – walking it’s streets with an expert, often an enthusiastic volunteer, telling you about it’s nooks and crannies.
This one reminded me of how much I love London, and how I’d forgotten if you scrape away at the surface, there’s history teaming beneath. That was one of the things I loved about studying Shakespeare here, as a student – living in his city, and that of his audience. The book 1599 is a brilliant way to understand London then, and it’s impact on the plays he wrote.
It’s made me more determined to see more of the city as a tourist – not as a Madame Tussauds and Leicester Square tourist – but to actively find out more about it’s history.
2. Eating an Indian feast.
On Sunday, Mr Story made the last of his recipe boxes from The Spicery. I bought him a three month subscription (i.e. three boxes with recipes and spices included), and we chose the Indian Vegetarian boxes. If I know you in real life, expect this as a present – it’s amazing! I thought it would be tasty, but regular curries. Not at all – each meal has three or four elements, some including pickles, dahls, curries, flat breads, rices, bhajis, spiced coleslaws…and they’re all incredibly tasty. We got an added extra recipe for Kati Rolls, which I loved. It’s suitable even for someone with advanced curry skills – the range of dishes will ensure that they’ll be cooking something new. It’s a brilliant way of having a fresh and tastier alternative to a take-away – you end up with a selection of complimentary dishes that you wouldn’t have thought of making. It’s main downside is that you can’t recreate them. The recipe is there, but doesn’t provide details of the spicing – just ready mixed bags of spice. This, presumably, is to protect the recipes, and a good sales technique. Mr Story is going to sign up again for another set of recipes.
3. Meeting my new (first and only!) nephew.
While I was standing in Kennington Park, listening to a talk about the gallows, I got a message from Big Sis, to say that my new nephew had arrived! Very exciting! We took advantage of Bank Holiday Monday, to arrive with his first birthday cake and ingredients for lunch, in return for cuddles and the chance to marvel at his tininess and excellent cuteness, his first tufty head of hair, before it starts falling out, and his wrinkly newness. There are very very few chances in life to meet someone just a few days old, and I’m so glad we were able to. Apparently the chocolate fudge birthday cake is a pretty good addition to a house with a new addition too! Photos by Mr Story.
4. Putting Together a Free Guide on ‘How to Include Your Story in Your Wedding’
After talking to a lot of brides and grooms at the Chosen Wedding Fair, I really wanted to put something together about the easy ways to get their story at the heart of their wedding. It’s often something that includes guests at the wedding, so people get excited and ‘aww’-y (definitely a word!) about seeing the relationship all laid out. If you’d like to sign up to receive the free download of ideas, of Seven Wonderful Ways, then click here, and it will get emailed straight over to you.
5. Shaking a plastic bottle filled with chickpeas!
Last year, I managed to catch the last event at the Round House Spoken Word Festival – a battle of epic proportions, fought valiantly with some amazing poetry, in a boxing ring. Through that I found out about the Bang Said the Gun poetry group and their regular Thursday night slot, in a pub. I finally managed to make it there last night. It was brilliant. In a room decorated with black boards and white splashy painting, small tables, and a few scattered glow sticks, we showed our appreciation for the poets by shaking plastic bottles of chickpeas, which is more fun and more effective than you can imagine. The room came together as we aimed to hit a balloon from one end to another, listened to the words of Salena Godden and Deanna Rodger among others, commiserated with those who couldn’t find their words, and cheered on those who took on the open mic. Highly recommended.