I often forget the many reasons that make it a privilege to call London home. Topping this list is the incredible access to live music, from decades-old bands with names known across generations to up and coming artists, slowly gaining recognition. These bands and artists encompass different genres, styles, origins and backgrounds, satisfying the city’s great variety of tastes from jazz to ska.
I was recently reminded of London’s great music diversity after hearing the Los Angeles based indie rock band, Family of the Year, for the first time, and within days, learning that they were playing a gig in Camden. I bought a ticket without hesitation. Yes, this was a solo mission.
For a South African, discovering an international band you think is awesome and then attending one of their gigs in an intimate venue a week later, is pretty phenomenal.
Beginning their current tour at The Black Heart in Camden, Family of the Year played to a small but crowded room. Made up of brothers Joseph (vocals/guitar) and Sebastian Keefe (drums/vocals), Christina Schroeter (keyboard/vocals) and James Buckey (guitar/vocals), the band played a mix of their fans’ firm favourites, including ‘Hero’ and ‘Never Enough’, as well as some of their latest music.
True to their name, the band’s casual and easy-going interaction with one another gave their gig a relaxed atmosphere with brotherly teasing added for good measure. In a way, it felt like we were watching our friends entertain us in our lounge – a lounge that happened to have a bar, surround sound and fun lighting. The best kind of gig, some (I) would say.
During their performance, the band mentioned their last gig in Hoxton in 2012, saying they hoped they hadn’t been forgotten. Judging from the crowd’s response and the serious fan behind me who warmly breathed his favourite lyrics against my neck, I know with certainty that was not the case.
Family of the Year’s tour takes them on the Netherlands, France, Germany and other European destinations. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they return to their fans in London.
As for me, this experience has inspired me to explore London’s gig scene with renewed fervour. It seems a real shame to live in a place where the music scene is unparalleled in choice and diversity, and not take advantage of that.
What is the meaning of ‘home’? For me, true home is still to come. I don’t know when and I can’t describe the details, but I do know that true home will come like a thief in the night; it is imminent and very, very real. Amidst talk of fairy tales, white clouds and a figure encompassing either love without judgement or judgement without love, in reality, this home is physical, just and symbolic of the purest and greatest love.
While I await this home, true home, I am blessed to call a few different places home. Temporary homes.
My current home enjoys a seemingly permanent buzz – a place of the old and young; a place of diversity, from countries of origin to the pronunciation of “perfect”. London, this temporary home, is a place like no other. It is a place that has given me an appreciation of history, city life and the word, “lovely”.
Another temporary home – New York. A jewel of music and films, a place connoting glamour and inventiveness. New York was my temporary home for a year; an important year of growing up and beginning to notice the ugliness of my heart. New York was a home of new experiences, new people, new friendship and many mistakes.
But the longest temporary home I’ve had is the home of my childhood; a home to five plus Lila, Jenna, Brutus, Sky, Goldie and unfortunate pet ants. A home of phenomenal sunsets, seas of different colours and temperaments. A home of snow-capped mountains, 0 degrees celsius, terrific thunderstorms, summer rain, winter rain, monkeys’ weddings, mild sun, hot sun and scorching sun. A home of painful history with scars that remain today but a home of friendliness and joy despite hardship and suffering. My temporary home, South Africa.
It was to this home that I recently returned for the second time in three years. This holiday represented another change of temporary homes – saying goodbye to a home symbolising childhood and saying hello to a new home with no symbolism at all.
Not yet anyway.
But I’ve started making my memories in this new temporary home. Here are some of them.
Cindy and I recently took two of these cards into London to get better acquainted with Soho and its surrounds including Chinatown and Carnaby Street.
Three years ago, one of the big reasons prompting my move to London was the desire to travel. Hence the blog! While I still have a great love for travelling, I have come to realise that beauty and originality is everywhere.
London in itself is a breathtaking city, full of diversity and secret corners. My cycle to work has given me a greater appreciation of this and an even deeper love for the city. For example; on exiting the serene Hyde Park, I am at once confronted by typical London rush hour traffic, only to turn left into Queensway and immediately feel as though I am on holiday. This may have something to do with the vast quantity of souvenir shops or the fact that Queensway was the first London street I set foot on when arriving here, but I still maintain that sometimes, by simply turning a corner, the atmosphere can change completely, and this is hugely down to the great variety of this great city.
I gave it a go in high school after watching Blue Crush. Dad said it was a phase. It lasted about seven months. It was an epic seven months. By the end of it, I was actually making semi-impressive moves on the waves. Well, in my imagination anyway. But alas, the next time I got on a surfboard was in Cape Town ten years later. So yes, perhaps it was a phase. Albeit a very cool one. Anyhow, I got the chance to surf again a few year later, this time in the UK, in Devon to be exact.
I joined three friends and we drove the 5 hours to Woolacombe beach, where we met another couple. We hired surfboards and wetsuits and got in the water. It was a lovely day. We were hot in our wetsuits out of the water and once in the water, it was just right. In fact, the water temperature was great. How amazing it was, just to perch on top of our boards, moved gently by the swells underneath us, and soak up our beautiful surroundings.
We took a break for lunch and then returned to the water, finally finishing off with ice cream and coffee. That night, we stayed in a hotel in Ilfracombe, our limbs tired and our skin warm after a full day in the water, under the sun.
It will probably be another year before I get on a board again although I do have one waiting for me at our holiday home in South Africa. Dad was very happy to get rid of my old surfboard at his first opportunity after I left school but has been kind enough to let this one rent a space in our garage! After all, surely it’s not a phase if you return to it once a year?! :)
Yes, two days. It sounded like a good plan. And I am truly grateful to have visited Cornwall. But now I understand why two days is a slightly ridiculously length of time in Cornwall.
Gaynor and I took the sleeper train from London to Penzance. We arrived early the next morning, enjoyed an enormous breakfast at a local cafe across the station and were then picked up by a local tour guide in his hippy-style van. With his surfboard tucked in the back, his cousin and her boyfriend randomly joining in on the trip and one of his initial questions being ‘Where would you like to go? You choose’, we knew we were in for a properly local and chilled tour of the area. After driving through the various, little villages, stopping off at historical or popular sights along the way, having tea and scones and later picking up a Cornish pasty, we got dropped off at the door of our accommodation at Carbis Bay. It was a wonderful tour during which we learnt great local myths and tales and got a real feel for the area. Our favourite village was Mousehole; a quaint, pretty hamlet which we would love to visit again some day. That evening, we wandered down into St Ives for dinner, and then again the following day. While a beautiful spot (with plenty of Cornish fudge, ice cream and other treats!), there were noticeably more people and cars in the village which we were told by our tour guide really reaches maximum in the summer. And even if it wasn’t that busy, I’d still prefer to stay in one of the quieter, less crowded villages nearby.
Cornwall is definitely one of my favourite spots in the UK and hopefully I will return there for a stay soon – and definitely for longer than two days this time!
I celebrated my two-year anniversary living in London with a two-week holiday in South Africa.
The flight to Johannesburg was pretty standard (and by standard, I mean I was glued to the movies, TV series, music and games for the entire trip – flying is a novelty to me). However, I encountered my first holiday hiccup at my stopover in Johannesburg. In trying to work out where to board my plane to Cape Town, a man, almost immediately noticing the familiar signs of confusion, approached me and kindly offered to help me find my departure gate. How nice, I thought, when he took a hold of my suitcase and told me to follow him. After walking a few meters to the appropriate place and feeling rather silly for not having worked it out myself, he promptly asked for his payment. Oh. Right. I just got scammed.
Once the old street smarts were knocked back into the system, I proceeded on to beautiful, wondrous Cape Town. I spent four days there, treating myself to two nights at a guest house on Kalk Bay Main Road, before heading on to my family home in East London. I also enjoyed two nights at our family holiday home in Birha. It was a real treat being back at the beach and, being February, I enjoyed lovely, hot weather. This of course means I also enjoyed a lovely, red sunburn. I think my skin had forgotten just how potent the African sun is and therefore needed the rest of my holiday to recover fully. Having my camera with me, I was able to capture photographs of cultures and scenes I had grown up around which was lovely.
It was a wonderful trip home and I’m very thankful for it. Here are some of my favourite pictures.
I just went to Paris for the weekend.
I can’t help but smile when I say that sentence. Who wouldn’t?! Although, as glamorous as it may sound, as easily as it rolls off the tongue, as romantic as the images ‘a weekend in Paris’ brings to mind; this is not entirely fitting with my weekend in Paris.
Instead of The Ritz, think of a hostel. Swap shopping in Prada on Avenue des Champs-Élysées with picking up a belated birthday present at the train station on the return to London. Rid the thought of hours spent intelligently pondering over famous art in the Louvre and replace it with 10-minute stops at world-renowned attractions while getting around the city using my two most reliable sources of transport – my left and right feet (it’s not coincidence that they are also the cheapest form of transport). These 10-minute stops were, of course, immediately followed by a tick of our imaginary ‘important sights to see in Paris’ box. And if we couldn’t make heads or tails of what we were looking at; no problem. As long as we got that tick. But it was still a weekend in Paris – and an incredible weekend in Paris at that. Read more…