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nostalgic musings in London ~ a little travel update for you

I’m in London now. I love this city. I’ve always had a delightfully tender relationship with her. Every time I end up here, it’s after some tumultuous experiences… Something life changing, exposing, and soul expanding.

Coming back this time has been so completing for me. I get to look back and measure my own changes and growth in comparison of where I was three, five and ten years ago; the times when I lived here last.

I feel full, enriched and happy. I am more myself than I have been ever before and am so comfortable and in love with who I am now than I ever have been before. It’s incredibly satisfying to have such a real measuring stick of time and change and to receive such perspective of oneself over a ten year period.

The first time I moved to London I was 20 years old. I went travelling after finishing school, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life and after a good year of wandering through some of Austria and much of Italy I decided the excitement and bright lights of London were calling my name. I arrived, with £300 pounds to my name and hope in my heart.

At that time in my life I was incredibly insecure, unsure of myself, had very little self worth and no sense of who I was or what I wanted out of life except for the one thing, that has been with me always.

To experience, to taste, to savour the breadth and depth of life, and all it has to offer.

For me at that time, London seemed like such a big, scary city! Figuring out the Underground railway system and how to get around was unbelievably daunting. After a few phone calls made at a hostel to some ads in a newspaper (yes, these were the times before Gumtree!) I found a cheap room in a share house in Westham (not the nicest of places but it worked for the time being). A few days later I found a job as a barmaid in a cute little traditional English pub in Convent Garden and so my London adventures began.

In that year I met a cute boy who managed a pub in Holborn (which is super-central London for those of you who aren’t familiar with the place) moved into the apartment above the pub with him and ended up becoming a Personal Assistant for the Manager of a small film editing company in Soho. I discovered this incredible city however not to the full extent that I could have. The cute boy I was with at the time wasn’t very adventurous and very “normal” (he became a policeman a few years later) and wanted to spend lots of time together so I didn’t get as much of a chance to explore.

Towards the end of my year in London, I felt I’d had enough. Enough of the cold, enough of the city life, enough of the 9-5, enough of the Tube, enough of the poor quality food. Just ENOUGH! By then I’d discovered that what I was interested in more than ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD was people! What they do, why they do what they do and how they are influenced. Basically, I wanted to understand myself, and to understand myself I had to understand human beings. So I decided to go to university and study Psychology. In the hottest, prettiest place I could find. Which funnily enough, turned out to be in Cairns, Australia! And thereby ended my first London adventure. At the end of 2001 I flew to Australia via a month in Thailand and started a new life.

My second stint in London came after a psychedelic summer of European trance parties where I worked in various areas from the kitchen to organising and marketing, to managing the DJ’s and generally just being a Fairy and making sure people were ok throughout festivals in Turkey, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and Morocco. At the end of that summer I ended up living in Barcelona, managing a Swedish Psychedelic Trance DJ and Producer. By this point I had been touring with music festivals on a non-stop basis for about two years and was burnt out, exhausted, unhealthy and loosing myself, my confidence and my happiness. On top of that I had to deal with a DJ/Producer with an unhealthy penchant for cocaine which he would bring back from Brazil on a regular basis, and well, lets just say that drugs and business don’t mix so well!

After one final festival to work at on New Years 2006/2007 in Portugal, I returned to Barcelona, packed my bags and boarded an aeroplane to London, along with one of my best friends whom had shared much of that summer with me. We were warmly and generously welcomed by a sweet friend of ours who lived in a lovely part of Battersea and my second adventure in London began.

I knew that I had to change my lifestyle, get healthy, get focused and reassess what direction I was wanting to head if i didn’t want to fall apart and loose track of myself. I had partied hard, kept up with the boys and paid my dues to the gods of fun-ness for a good 5 years and now it was time to take a new path. This goal became my main focus for being in London this time.

Slowly, beautifully, my life fell into place. I started loving a very sweet man who was exactly what I needed at that time: incredibly caring, nurturing, loving, protective and gave me everything and more than I could have ever asked for. I found a job working as an event organiser for dance company (all those years working at festivals did somehow leave me with some kind of experience!) and moved into the cutest apartment with a gorgeous Georgian girl in Hackney.

My second London experience was much more enriching and full! I started eating better, sleeping more and becoming healthy, made friends with the kindest people ever, walked around the city exploring every nook and cranny, some of the places you can read about here, went to squat parties, crazy nightclubs, markets and discovered other areas like Brighton, Bristol and Manchester. I really fell in love with this city.

After a solid 15 months in London the cold, grey weather and my gypsy feet were getting the better of me and I booked a return flight to India, where I travelled for four months and returned to enjoy the British summer. It was another summer of festivals, however this time in England and gentler. I had learned from my wild days, that, though radically fun, this lifestyle wasn’t sustainable for me and that I could still have just as much fun as well as take care of myself and nurture my being with love and respect. I left the UK again for work and travels in the Middle East and Asia in October 2008.

I’ve not lived in London since, but have been to visit for a few months in December 2009/January 2010 and again now, December 2012. Both times I have returned after quite some strong and heavy life experiences involving relationships in some sense or another (I know you are due that update, I just haven’t been ready to tell that story yet. I’ve been blaming myself for some mistakes that I made in choosing to be with someone and putting myself into a situation that wasn’t healthy for me. I’m letting it go, filing it away under the label of “massive learning experience” and am getting there, ready to share that lesson x ) and I am beginning to see London as my Mother city. She is there for me and nurtures me in those moments of need.

Each time I return I am delighted to find that I love this city more every single time. I getto re-ignite firm friendships with the wonderful people I am blessed to know and to discover even more places and spaces of this wonderful city. This time my days are spent catching up with loved ones, scheming up our future dreams and plans, checking out the latest and trendiest new health food cafes, browsing around my favourite markets, yoga classes and the occasional party or gig.

I don’t know where I’m headed next. I’ll figure that out next week. There are whispers of Mexico in the air… Guatemala… Paris… or even staying in London. My whimsical gypsy feet haven’t told me the way yet so I’m enjoying life, taking it day by day and am excited and delighted to find out what’s just around the corner!

Sending you lots of love and peace,

Vienda xx

2 Responses to nostalgic musings in London ~ a little travel update for you

  1. Haha Emma, I love following your travels and insights too so I totally resonate with you! Hopefully we get to play somewhere on our travels soon x

  2. I. LOVE. THIS!!! You are like my soul sister!! Free spirited nomadic wanderers!! Can’t wait to see where your next adventures take you!! xx

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