Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The last summer before the rest of my life

 In two weeks' time I will be starting my final year at the London College of Fashion. If two years has flown by, I'm sure my final year will rocket.

University holidays are unlike any other: they often start as early as May and then yawn and stretch well into October. Once I graduate I will either be out into the working world or following a dream (and the smell of pastries) to Paris, so I realise I will never get a summer like this again. Which is why I have made it my mission to enjoy it as much as possible.

Even now, mid September, I am making the most of the last of the sunshine like a hungry child shaking the crumbs out of a biscuit tin. Yesterday I had a picnic in the September sun on Hampstead Heath. When it started to rain we just hid under a tree and watched and waited until the sun had come out from behind its cloud.

On October the 2nd I will be back at university and starting a year that will probably be my busiest and hardest yet. I am actually looking forward to it. But until then I am determined to squeeze out the very last drops of summer and to drink them all up with a smile.

These are some of the things I have been doing in the last summer before the rest of my life (I warn you in advance, a lot of it has involved eating)...
1) Exploring my new home in Clapham. Today I moved my final things out of my old house in Brixton and left the keys there. Brixton has served me well and I am sad to have left, but am happy to be in a lovely new flat in a lovely new area. Somehow it feels just right and just where I am meant to be. Maybe because it is just around the corner from where I was born and first lived before my parents moved out of London.
2) Eating cake, drinking coffee and writing in the Bread Room, one of my favourite cafés in Brixton Village, where the staff are lovely and the air is warm with French chatter and the smell of flour. Their almond croissants are the best. Also highly recommended: carrot cake and a chocolate brownie that is so large that it arrived with a knife and fork.
3) There is a cute cafe on Brixton Road near Oval station called Cable Bar and Café. It is on my bus route and every time I pass it I think how nice it looks, but I am always on my way somewhere else so had never actually been inside. The other day I decided spontaneously to get off the bus. I am so very glad that I did. It is a little cave of a café with retro fittings and a three-layered chocolate cake that made me happy to be alive.
4) French and Grace is one of the (many) wonderful restaurants in Brixton Village (can you see a theme emerging? The Village is in my opinion one of the best places in London). Recently I headed there for a meal with a friend and we sat on wooden benches and ate hummus, grilled halloumi and a meze of salads.
For pudding we shared an orange blossom and pistachio cake, dripping in honey.
5) Another Brixton Village favourite is Seven, a tapas café by day (with tables made from suitcases and  cosy corners upstairs that are perfect for sitting with a book or notepad) and a cocktail bar by night. At £5 a cocktail it is student-friendly hotspot (comparatively - this is still London after all). I am making it my mission to diligently sample the entire menu. So far the ginger beer mojito and the strawberry and basil daiquiri are my favourites.
6) Pancakes on Clapham Common. When I arranged to meet up with my friend Angel for a picnic on Clapham Common I expected sandwiches. Instead she arrived laden with tupperware. I sat and watched in awe as she assembled a mini mountain of homemade pancakes, which she smothered in berry and rose jam (also homemade) and scattered with berries and edible flowers. It is safe to say that I choose good friends. Pardon the pun Angel, but the picnic was heavenly.

8) Smelling the flowers. As soon as I walk out of Clapham South, my nearest tube station, I see two things. Clapham Common, and a flower shop called Dover. Each day I walk past Dover and pine after the blooms. I think of my mum (who owned a flower shop in Clapham when I was born and who has since written several books about the joy of flower shops) and despite being far from my family in Dorset, I feel close to home.
Now that I am settled (and have pinched a vase from my mum's extensive collection in her garage) I have decided to buy myself a bunch as a welcome home present. I think it will have to be my favourites: a happy bundle of sunflowers.
9) Decorating my room. Home has always been important to me, and whether I am living in a box or a mansion it will always be important to make it feel like mine. That is why my posters and photos are some of my most precious possessions and the first thing to get unpacked when I move. This is my most organised wall to date; normally my room is colourful chaos. The order is taking some getting used to but I like it. It is representative of what I want this year to be like: me but more focused.
10) Discovering Maltby Street Market, a new and flourishing food market in Bermondsey started by stallholders who had become frustrated by the high prices and overcrowding of Borough Market.

11) Sharing vegan cupcakes and gossip with my vegan friend at Ms. Cupcake in Brixton.
12) Baking in my new kitchen. These are chocolate orange cupcakes that made the kitchen smell like a Terry's chocolate orange.
13) Picnicking on Hampstead Heath. I am ashamed to admit that before yesterday I had never actually been to Hampstead Heath before. I spent the entire afternoon grinning.

14) Wandering along the South Bank with one of my best friends who has just moved to London. Walking by the river always makes me feel like a tourist, until I remember with giddy happiness: I LIVE HERE.

15) Enjoying the sunsets out the window of my new kitchen.

16) Going to Alexandra Palace for the first time and falling for the view.

 17) Drinking tea and cake at the Emporium Tea Rooms in Muswell Hill.
18) Visiting my home in Dorset and enjoying my favourite view.

19) Going to Poole with my family and feasting my eyes (and heart) on another wonderful view.
20) And of course - colour co-ordinating my wardrobe. Opening my rainbow wardrobe makes me smile.

Now if you don't mind, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my summer.

(Libby Page: Licking the lid of life since 1992.) 


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