I woke up in my bed in London on Friday morning in a fit of ungratefulness. The previous evening had gone smoothly enough. Our train from Edinburgh pulled in to King’s Cross Station exactly on time and though our senses were immediately assaulted by city sounds, sights and smells, a burst of post-vacation energy meant instead of succumbing to our sushi cravings, Allan grabbed groceries and cooked dinner while I scrubbed the entire bathroom clean (no, really). Our awesome neighbour, with whom we’ve been playing food-exchange ping-pong (and who had been baby-sitting our plants and herbs while we were gone) popped by with seasoned Japanese rice and homemade miso soup.
Then Friday morning came and I had the post-vacation blues (a most obnoxious affliction, if you ask me). I was jolted awake by the insanely noisy construction site that sits less than 50m from our flat. It was miserably gray and drizzly out. I checked my e-mail and my dog Mango, who had major knee surgery two weeks ago and was up to this point recovering decently, had suddenly started whimpering and refusing to walk. Already in a foul mood, I set about tackling the small mountains of laundry in our living room, including some very dirty hiking clothes and piles of sheets and towels used by our subletters. But our building’s laundry machines (its most irritating amenity, to be sure) neither cleaned nor dried our clothes properly, leaving us with half a load of soapy, sopping wet clothes strewn all around our flat (à la this, but way more). By lunchtime I’d hit my lowest point when I found myself scraping off a dozen pieces of burnt oven-broiled baguette slices over the sink.
But then, things started looking up. Despite our cajun toasts, lunch was very good. Our basil had grown like gangbusters in our absence and I picked off the greenest leaves to mix with surprisingly sweet and ripe cherry tomatoes, Parmesan, red onion, garlic and olive oil. An avocado rounded out the meal.
My afternoon continued to get better with a long Skype chat with my dear friend Peter. And then came the phone call from my parents that Mango was fine; she had perhaps stretched a tendon but the vet was pleased with her recovery.
The weekend got better and better from there. We mostly spent it sharing quality time with great people. Friday evening I returned my neighbour’s dish along with half a loaf of marmalade cake, and she immediately shoved a plate of homemade sushi in my hands.
Saturday afternoon we ate a 9-course lunner (lunch + dinner) hosted by the Latino and cooking clubs in our building (Doxsees, you would’ve been all over this). We sat and talked non-stop to a couple with an adorable mixed-race baby who told us they were both born and raised in Chile, although it was clear that the husband was not ‘ethnically Chilean’ (whatever that means!); it naturally came out later that his grandfather had left Japan for South America many decades ago. But Allan (and I, as well) fought the urge all afternoon to ask him this (see also this related and hilarious video).
Later that evening we sat in our square’s garden with our neighbours for hours, catching up and exchanging stories of our recent travels over glasses of wine and pretzels I had dipped in chocolate.
But today was the best day of all. Today was the first day in London that it’s actually felt like summer. The thermometer reached a scorching (for London) 25C and the sun shone all day. People half-joked that this may be it for nice summer weather – half-joked because it might be true. We spent time chatting with friends after church and then had a bánh mì picnic with some of Allan’s classmates, stretched out on a patch of cool grass under a big shady tree in our garden. Later, I went for a glorious run without once worrying that the sky might open up and pour rain on me. I’m going to try and post some Scotland stories and pictures tomorrow; right now, we’re capping off a beautiful day with the last two episodes of the third season of Game of Thrones. I couldn’t ask for a better summer weekend!