europe diaries: london and canterbury

Back home in Melbourne, I am sprinting up the platform to catch my train. I am puffing and panting and begging the ticket reader to end its ongoing friction with the Myki card and allow me to touch on. The doors start beeping and soon enough, the train becomes a dot in the distance. I curse to the train gods as I hear the next won't arrive until 20, so I sit down on a bench, take out a notepad and start to reminisce about London and its magical public transport system.

In the middle of my final semester of uni last year, I bought a ticket to London. It ended up becoming a little spontaneous (and very lonely) trip around Europe.

I have always wanted to go to London since I was a little girl. Reading about it in literature and watching it on the big screen sparked this great interest inside of me and I fell in love with the city before I had step foot in it. 

London greeted me with hail and 5 minutes of sunshine. I stayed in a little narrow house in Brixton where the streets wailed with police sirens. The house had a small window on the top of the second flight of stairs and on days when the sun warmed our skins, we'd climb through it onto the roof terrace. Every morning I'd have excessive pins and needles from Charlie the house cat snuggling on my lap and every night I'd watch documentaries with my cousin, Steven before bed. There was a Sainsbury's down the road where Skittles were on sale for 75p. Needless to say, I had the worst toothache that lasted a good week but I regret nothing because ridiculously cheap Skittles are not one you walk away from. What I most liked about the little narrow house in Brixton was the old house smell that comforted me; like the smell of light musk, or rain on a Spring morning; like the warmth of home away from home.

A portrait of my grandpa hanging in my cousin's restaurant

A portrait of my grandpa hanging in my cousin's restaurant

London shadowed in gloominess. It rained all the time, and all the time I kept wandering. I took public transport everywhere and visited places that I grew up mispronouncing on the Monopoly board. There was this funny feeling I can't quite describe as I visited places I had only ever read about: when I walked through Westminster Abbey and saw all the tombs of monarchs and honourable people and learnt of all the coronations and royal weddings; when I stood in the middle of the Tower of London after studying A Man for All Seasons for the Year 12 English exam; when I walked by the Coronation Stone on my way to dinner in Kingston upon Thames; or even when I drove by Sir David Attenborough's house. They were all experiences I could relive in my head forever. In my mind, London was a faraway place that only existed in beautifully written verse. Yet there it was right in front of me, London and all its history, and I had to keep pinching myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

On one of the days I met and shot alongside Cansu O, who was kind enough to organise a team together for us to shoot. We shot in Holland Park until we could shoot no more and I thanked her with Tim Tams before we went our separate ways.

I went to the theater for the first timeΒ 

I went to the theater for the first time 

I left London that day for a train to Canterbury where I stayed in a 300 year old house that looked like something out of Downton Abbey. It had a marvelous staircase and old, polished furniture adorned with decorations that should have belonged in a museum. The bathtub sat by a massive arched window that overlooked the most beautiful flower garden, but I was too scared to take a bath, even though I knew there wouldn't be any one out there.

I watched my cousin marry her love on Julianna's Island

I watched my cousin marry her love on Julianna's Island

I traveled back to London, only to hop onto a train at St Pancras for Paris. I didn't shoot much in London. Sometimes my camera would stay packed away so I could enjoy everything she had to offer, and she offered more than I could ever ask.