On top of that odd building, that Walkie-Talkie wonky sky scraper that melted cars when it was being built, is a beautiful hidden oasis. The top three storeys offer 360 degree views across London and even has landscaped gardens, observation decks and terraces inside.
If you just want to have a wander up in the Sky Garden, good news! It’s free! But make sure you book at least three days in advance, there’s even a small bar that serves drinks and snacks. But if you want a truly exceptional experience you can dine at the Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill or the Darwin Brasserie.
Book a slot to visit for free here, or find out more about Sky Garden here.
In Essaouira I found the calm I had been searching for for quite some time. Armed with an iPad, a book and a boyfriend, I boarded a shockingly early flight directly to Essaouira from Luton. The old Medina, an old city enclosed by an old fortress that has survived the years, hides winding alleys and markets, with the strong scent of fish guts and thuya wood and is engulfed in gusts of wind every few minutes. Our days were spent sprawled across poolside canopy beds, devouring the chapters of my latest novel and wandering the winding streets until we got so lost we had to stop for Moroccan tea and tourist photos.
As London life ticks on, crawls some days and other days, months are engulfed at a time… I grow ever nervous for reasons I can never quite put my finger on. Whether I’m making the right decisions, or not enough mistakes as my former self might have felt entitled to make. I begin to see the same man drinking coffee on a pavement cafe on the way to work and I feel nothing but hopelessness about the passage of time. London is never permanent and yet nearly three years have passed since I started working here, peeling away the days. Morocco was a welcome, and extremely laid back, retreat to an otherwise constantly changing life.
I wrote about how to fall in love. Did you follow my steps precisely? Did you fall in love? More importantly… did you stay in love?
Fall in love slowly, deeply or casually but make sure you fall in love. Fall blindly and stay there. Make each other packed lunches with post it notes. Stare furiously into each other’s eyes and try to unlock that deep dark soul of theirs or stare blankly into their open heart. Make love, not war. Whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears. Stay up all night and tell each other secrets. Don’t tell each other everything. Don’t plan your wedding but plan a life. Share a life together and talk about all those long road trips you’ll never take because you spent too long at work and got stuck on the tube on your way out of London. Walk hand in hand and curl those fingers tightly like they might just slip away if you let go. Say I love you; whisper it, sing it, shout it from the rooftops but don’t forget to say it. When they say they’re there for you, believe them. Close your eyes and say their name. Everything else should be white noise. Spend all morning in bed. Spend all afternoon in bed too. You won’t always get to. Never go to bed angry, and if you do, wake up and kiss them, make it the first thing you do. Listen to everything they say, because one day they might not say it anymore. Watch horror stories and build forts. Laugh, cry and work out together. Never say “it’s nothing”, because it never was. Eat pizzas and make plans together. Make love. Make time.
We’ve all got pet peeves and that’s just fine. Maybe you get irked by your boyfriend leaving the toilet seat up. Or slow walkers really grind your gears. But some all of us have some really weird pet peeves. I know that deep deep down inside there are some totally odd things that really get you going when you’re trying to sleep on a hot summer’s day and all that’s going around and around in your head are these strange pet peeves and the more you think about them the more you realise how weird and completely inoffensive these things are. In a cold sweat you rise from your bed and go sob in a cold shower. Or… you write a blog post about them…
You know when you buy a jacket with coat tails? And there’s that one tiny thread that hold the coat tails together so it’s safe and snug between the factory to your wardrobe? There are some people who don’t take that off. They march around in blissful ignorance with that coat tail begging to be set free.
Not taking off the sticky label from the bottom of your shoe.
Men in short sleeves shirts.
People who press the button to open the door to get off the tube. Why? Why are you doing that? Why are you touching the button? Stop touching the button. I hate you.
Some people hate people who stop directly in front of the oyster barriers to get into the Underground/Tube. Some people hate people who stop directly AFTER the oyster barriers to get into the Underground/Tube. Some people hate the people who can’t get through the barriers because they don’t have enough credit on their Oyster card/stepped in front of the sensor/don’t know how to use an Oyster card reader. But I hate those people who get really angry about these things, so much so they need to vocalise their feelings. It really grinds my gears that people can be so angry about these people. So what? You are now 3 seconds later than you were before, this isn’t Sliding Doors people, some people are just generally unprepared for the responsibility you seem to think having an Oyster card brings with it….
Don’t even pretend you haven’t done it. Because you’re a bare faced liar and I hate you, you’re going in my burn book. If I’m going down, you’re coming with me.
The beauty of Facebook is that even on my most miserable or happy day, it can throw a curve ball in there and I’ll be sucked into a half an hour stalk-a-thon that climaxes in photos of my ex best friend’s cousin’s son in law’s dog. But that’s just called Tuesday now, isn’t it?
A particularly shameful guilty pleasure is when your ex pops up on your FB with those awful four much anticipated words… “IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH…” Or, if you sent him into the FB friend bin along with his shitty t-shirts you used to sleep with, you might have the pleasure of your friends tell you of his new girlfriend (or her new boyfriend, or his new boyfriend, or her new girlfriend, etc……) What are friends for if not to remain FB friends with your ex so you can guiltily stalk them when they get fat/ugly/have a wonderful life while you eat cold pizza and a gin and tonic in a can on a Thursday night.
It would be a travesty not to stalk the new girlfriend/boyfriend/cat. No, it doesn’t mean you’re still in love with them. And yes of course you’re better looking. Unless of course you broke their heart and left them at the altar then he’s probably marrying Heidi Klum because that’s called karma. But if it’s 3AM on a Tuesday night and you’re stalking their new beau and sobbing into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s … It might be time to call in Tinder.
Gone are the days of high heels and dating low lives, and how wonderfully pleasant to be instead tangled up in the soft embrace of love; that gentle ebb and flow of a constant passion for another human being. And how luxuriously quickly we can forget about those long months and years of loneliness, disaster and heartbreak. For in all my time facing the challenges of life, from the deaths of loved ones, heartache or even when traveling around great mountains by myself, I never did feel quite as alone as being a twenty something in London. With that overwhelming feeling this fine city gives you; that you could be anyone, but more likely, you could just be nobody. So how magnificently delightful that all those thoughts now dissipate since finding someone to share a life with. Since finding someone who can release all those tied up frustrations and neuroses that skip, jump and slump around your brain by just saying ‘Good Morning’. Since finding someone to share electric kisses with.
Once upon a time, everything I touched turned to gold, or at least it seemed that way. But nothing ever stuck, nothing ever turned out to be anything more than dust. And then there was him. And everything was OK.
#76: Holding too many grudges. The barista who didn’t put enough whipped cream on my hot chocolate. The man who cut me up when three lanes merged. The guy who didn’t give up his seat quick enough on the tube for the pregnant lady. The cat that looked at me funny. The list goes on, and on, and on until hours have been wasted holding grudges.
#75: Wearing too much make up. This continues on a daily basis.
When I left university I was desperate to run away. My dad died in the last couple weeks of my degree and all I wanted to do was run away. I didn’t really tell anyone I just upped and left with a friend and a facebook post of a departures board.
I ran away all the way to Asia and then for the next year or so I consistently ran away from everything. To Asia, three times, away from boyfriends and friends and work and responsibilities.
And then I was overcome by this paranoia that I was wasting my life, that all my friends had moved on and started their careers and jobs and lives and I was still spending half my time sunning myself on a beach and the other half of my time scrubbing toilets for pennies.
So I came back to London to work. Not just work, I poured my heart and soul into a career. Not the right career but still a career. But it itches. That little travel bug. And now I’m thinking that that girl who had so easily given in to a life 60 hour work weeks, out of hours calls and working through weekends because she believed the appearance of having her shit together was more important than actually having my shit together may not have actually HAD HER SHIT TOGETHER.
So we’ll see.
But anyway. There’s no such thing as traveling too much, or wasting time when you’re exploring. Whilst wandering off to another country is not a matter to be taken lightly, or maybe it is. Do it for the right reasons, or the wrong reasons or for no reasons at all. But if you want to, you should, and don’t stop.