Posts Tagged ‘Said’

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Tube update: North Greenwich.

June 17, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, Toby surprised with a wonderful early birthday present: he bought us tickets to go and see Jennifer Lopez at the O2 arena in Greenwich in October. I am so excited and truly looking forward to it – I have never been to a concert in a big arena either, so it will be a first for me as well as for J.Lo (who has never played a concert in the UK). But as I had never been to Greenwich, Toby decided that we should go, and so today we met Said there:

We had a lovely meal at Frankie & Bennys for lunch (and the service was better than the ones in Bristol, as much as I love them too!), then caught the Thames Clipper to Greenwich where we saw the Olympic stadium for the equestrian events, the Observatory tower, and the Painted Hall (as used in the final of the Great British Menu). It was a lovely day, and the whole time I was there it was like I wasn’t in London – I got to see a side of the city (south of the river!) that I don’t normally see.

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the art of conversation.

May 20, 2012

On Thursday evening I was waiting to meet Toby and Said in Starbucks in Westfield after work. I had my frappuccino, my copy of L’Officiel Hommes Italia (I had bought the Italian version rather than my usual French version in order to practise my Italian – I have been doing my Italian course for 3 weeks and I feel it’s going well, although I am still finding it hard to avoid thinking and speaking in Spanish) and my iPod in. I had serendipitously commandeered three comfy armchairs around a table, and was settling in to read. However, the cafe was getting busy and Toby and Said were running late due to traffic and transport. A pretty Asian lady in a blue coat came up to me and asked if anyone was sitting with me. Now, I could hardly say “I’m sorry, my friends are coming” because I didn’t know when they would arrive – as it happened, I ended up waiting for another half an hour before they arrived. So I said “No, go ahead and take the chairs.” The woman flopped down in the seat and exhaled loudly, before exclaiming “They should make places in here (i.e. Westfield) where you can sleep for half an hour!” I smiled and agreed, and soon she was joined by her equally pretty friend, who sat in the other vacant armchair. For a while, we didn’t converse, but somehow we eventually started talking. About shopping, about London (the first lady maintained that London used to have “quiet areas, but now there are so many people everywhere, you can’t escape them!”) and about iPhone apps. We even talked about finances and relationships, and somehow we passed the time amiably chatting. Their friend showed up and they introduced her to me, and although I didn’t know these women, I felt included and comfortable. It was an unusual situation, and when Toby and Said finally arrived, they wore slightly amused and surprised expressions on their faces as I bade the women farewell.

I explained how we had ended up talking, and I realised that while it was cute that “I had made Starbucks friends”, in the past this kind of situation probably wasn’t so uncommon. When you’re on a plane or on a bus and someone sits next to you, in the past we didn’t have iPods and other devices with headphones to cut ourselves off so effectively from the rest of the world. Ok, we might have been reading a book and people might have interpreted that as someone not particularly wanting to engage in conversation, but it didn’t render us incommunicado from the world outside in the same way – and we probably didn’t regard someone new wanting to talk to us as an entirely unreasonable intrusion on our privacy. Although a lot of people harp on about the youth of today communicating so wholly via social media that they no longer have (or necessarily need) conversational skills in the real world, I don’t think that I hold with that anti-technology, anti-modern view. People are either socially confident and equipped with skills to handle face-to-face interactions, or they’re not. Me and my friends use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. – but we also enjoy talking face to face and venturing out into the big wide world.

As someone who has always been good at learning languages, the hardest and most nerve-wracking aspect of studying a new language is always speaking and listening – being able to successfully navigate a real-time, real-life interaction and find the words and sentences to express my needs and opinions. It takes practice, perseverance and a certain acceptance of making mistakes and learning from them. We can’t be afraid that we’re going to mess up from time to time – because that is definitely going to happen, and when we ask for help, correct ourselves and re-establish our confidence is when we learn. In much the same way, people can’t be afraid of making a social blunder even in their first / only language – it’s a totally understandable fear, but if we acquiesce to that fear, then we end up staying in hiding behind that array of screens never to conquer our social unease. The art of conversation is something that some people have much stronger skills in than others – but everyone can practise and hone those skills. We are all human, and at the end of the day physically being with one another isn’t the only way, but it is the ultimate one.

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London tube extravaganza: Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus

March 19, 2012

Yesterday Toby and I headed into central London to avoid the hordes of people descending on the Earls Court Exhibition Centre for the Ideal Homes Exhibition (although we did bump into Said, which was lovely), the Chelsea fans, and to see Nana for a nice catch-up. We firstly headed to Leicester Square and walked down to the Strand via Covent Garden:

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We had a yummy lunch at Leon (Toby has collected their recipe books, but I’d never been and was very pleased by their falafel wrap), I wished my mum and my grandmother Happy Mother’s Day, and then we wandered up Regent’s Street (visiting Guess and H&M on the way) towards Oxford Circus, via Piccadilly Circus:

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We also went to Carnaby Street, and during our journey we saw some of the Fabergé Eggs which have been “hidden” (i.e. sprinkled liberally in plain view) around London for Easter / the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. I particularly liked the Postbox one, which apparently was stolen! But it’s back now:

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We met up with Nana and went to Vapiano’s, where we had a really good chat (I swear I didn’t stop talking for an hour – there was a surprisingly large amount of ground to cover since we’d last met up in January!), coffee and tiramisu. 

I have nearly finished the western half of Zone 1! I can’t believe both how long this is going to take (there are many stations – which I already knew, but touring them all is really bringing this hope to me), and how many places I am exploring as a as a result. Which was the point! Nevertheless, I am aware that my blog has lately become London-travel focused, and I apologise for the lack of non-Underground-related material. I am hoping to learn to make an omelette before the end of the month for my cookery project, and I have also been writing some articles for a project I am currently developing… All will hopefully be revealed fairly soon, I just have to keep on writing and plotting! But rest assured I have plenty more in store 🙂 Much love xx