I had to get out of Dodge last week, after several years of living in Mallorca I suddenly succumbed to a bad case of ‘islanditis’ and desperately needed to get away. One Easyjet flight later and I was in the UK. Going from the intense August heat to the rather autumnal rain was a shock, yet I doggedly wore my flip flops as I crossed London on trains and buses to reach my friend’s house in West Hampstead. I noticed that I was not the only person wearing flip flops as they were also being sported by some ‘gentlefolk of the road’ and realised that perhaps I would have to rethink my footwear. Once I was installed in my old friend’s spare bedroom I was ready to roam. Trainers (and socks, SOCKS!) on and off I went.
Now, I’m not saying that the big city is better than the country, as they both feature things which I love, but it was a tonic to meet up with old friends and wander around London window shopping and people watching. We didn’t do anything fancy or expensive, in fact most of the time we just walked around talking about life, love and London.
I noticed things that had changed: the smoking laws seem to have worked, the cost of a packet of cigarettes is now about £8 as opposed to the 4€ here in Spain, plus you can’t smoke inside and there were definately less people sparking up outside. And then there’s the cost of a glass of wine (average price over the weekend £6! Per glass!). And there’s all that walking from the house to the tube and then from the tube to your destination. In my opinion people who live in London must be pretty healthy specimens.
There are posters for the Olympics everywhere, and there’s an enormous new building called The Shard which is due to be the tallest building in Europe once it’s finished. There are new green shoots of developments sprouting up all over the place, and the city seems to be humming with energy and positivity. I even found myself smiling at strangers on the street, (don’t worry I didn’t get locked up). Could this really be the same town where just a couple of weeks before was the arena for the most destructive public disorder in recent times? Whilst I was away there was huge fire in Bendinat, and the pool bar in a hotel in Portals collapsed, life suddenly seemed to have switched things around!
Returning to Mallorca after just a couple of days respite from the heat and plenty of inspiration from the city streets has put a spring in my step and a smile on my face. When I left London for Mallorca in 2004 I felt as if I was being unfaithful to my hometown, and now I’m wondering, is it possible to be married to one country and have an affair with another?