Life is good here in London. The weather has been stunning, the work stimulating, there are so many opportunities and I’ve been able to catch up with some friends.
As far as opportunities go, I know there are opportunities everywhere, but here in London, you barely have to look for them – it’s so easy. I’ve already signed up to run the London Women’s 5k in September (I’m running for the Bobath Centre, which helps children with cerebral palsy), and a writer’s workshop later in the month, as well as a dance studio that offers drop-in classes, which is great, because my schedule changes every week, so I can’t go to regular once-a-week classes. So far I’ve been to Zumba, ballet for beginners, capoeira and hip-hop classes. I’m considering doing the London Nighthike, too, and a million other things including writing competitions.
Andrew R came to visit last week, and today I have Ryan staying. It’s so good to catch up with friends. I suspect there are almost as many people from Bayfield High School in London as there are in Dunedin! (Ooh, and in the process of finding the website to link there, I discovered Bayfield is having a reunion next October. I’m unlikely to be making a trip to New Zealand for it.)
Tonight is my official welcoming ceremony here at Pax Lodge and I’m expected to have a 10 minute presentation about me, my family, my country and Guiding in my country ready. I’m tempted to ad lib it, but everyone else seems to be taking it so seriously. It doesn’t help that I didn’t know I’d be coming here when I left New Zealand, so I didn’t bring anything with me. It will also be Maribeth’s (Florida, USA), Zuzana’s (Czech Republic) and Kelcey’s (California, USA) welcome ceremony. I’ve discovered that talking about myself is on the less-than-impressive list of things I’m actually good at, so I really shouldn’t plan to fail by failing to plan.
The second Journey Through London event is finished and I think most of the guests are leaving today if they haven’t gone already. I went out with the event group twice – the first time for “London Monopoly” – a kind of self-guided sight-seeing game through the centre of London, including a flight on the London Eye, and going to the musical Wicked in the evening, and the second time for their service project day. It was supposed to be an ‘intergenerational’ day where we did arts and crafts with people from the ‘assisted living facility’ (old people’s home Waterhouse Close) behind Pax Lodge, but the director of Waterhouse Close told his residents we’d be in on Thursday, and we showed up on Friday. Instead, we cleared some ivy from a huge section in their garden and did some weeding in one of the resident’s – John “Joe” John – gardens. In the morning I helped them make a video and some posters for WAGGGS’ current advocacy campaigns: Stand Up Against Poverty and Say No to Violence against Women and Girls. I have a six day working week starting tomorrow, and I should be able to get acquainted with the admin side of my role more.
I’ve just had a three day weekend, which I probably should have used to get out of London for a bit and do an exciting trip, but instead I went to the library and got very excited over their sale trolley – £1 hardbacks and 50p paperbacks! I registered for a library card and got out a pile of books, then went to a hip-hop dance class. Yesterday I went swimming in one of the swimming ponds at Hampstead Heath, and today I really should be preparing my presentation and opening a bank account. Hmm… these things may or may not happen, seeing as all those books I got from the library are clamouring for my attention.
There’s so much to see and do here in London, and I haven’t even begun to think about sight-seeing. I’m a terrible tourist anyway: I panic in art galleries, get bored in museums and can usually only manage a briefly interested glance at historic buildings. However, I am rather looking forward to visiting Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station and visiting the site of Cat Stevens’ childhood home as well as seeing as many shows as I can at the West End.
In any case, I need to sign off here. To all my Spanish friends – congratulations on the World Cup, it was a good game once extra time started. And to the Dutch: you have to admit they deserved it – you play dirty. 🙂 Arohanui and hugs to everyone. Keep in touch, I like emails.