Monday, April 19, 2010

Not a cloud nor plane in the sky

Well the much anticipated spring/summer weather has finally come to London and I'm enjoying it immensely. Although I miss Stockholm very much, there are never warm days in April in Stockholm. Come to think of it... there are never really any warm days at all in Stockholm. I can just hear all the Swedes who read this blog getting defensive. Ok Sweden, I give you this: Midsommer 2005 was warm and so was most of the month of May of 2007. My 30th birthday in 2008 was also warm and nice and so was the day in 2008 that I ran the Kungsholmen Runt and then sat out in the park. But as you can see... if I can remember the warm days individually... they are unusual. What I do recall most strongly about spring/summer in Sweden is always having to bring a jacket, sitting outside at Thai Boat last June wearing hats and gloves, freezing on the beach in Gotland and putting away all summer clothes by September first - it's already winter by then. While I still favor Stockholm over London in so many ways, I am definitely going to make the most out of a warmer/longer London summer. I will however miss the long light.

But as usual... I digress. Back to the warm weekend in London.

It was a beautiful weekend. Although volcanic ash in the sky was making air travel impossible and forcing closure of all UK airports, the irony was the clear blue skies that graced the London sky (no ash in sight). It was strange to see the to see the skies so eerily quiet (I live on the flight path to Heathrow and have gotten used to the constant planes) and so brilliantly blue. Theoretically, last Saturday was actually the first warm day in London, but that was kind of just a warm-up (ha ha - get it) with this weekend producing both a beautiful and warm Saturday and Sunday. In fact, there was not a cloud (or a plane) in the sky either day.

The first dilemma one faces on the first warm weekend of the year however, is what in the world do you wear? I mean are you really ready to expose your pasty white winter skin for all to see? Are you ready to bare those pale legs or work those pale arms in that tank top? After a few uncomfortable minutes spent trying on half the clothes in my "summer" wardrobe, I decided I looked: pale, naked and cold and I concluded that summer clothes should only be worn with a tan. This posed for me a dilemma - how do you get a tan if you are all covered up?

Luckily I finally sorted out an somewhat appropriate outfit of multiple layers which consisted of a black maxi dress, a grey hoodie sweat shirt with 3 quarter sleeves, a grey light leather jacket, a blue scarf and silver flip flops (I'm not sure why I felt you needed to know the colors of the clothing but this did feel like an important detail when writing it). I have to say that I did feel a bit strange stepping out for the first time in my summer dress and flip flops and at first I wondered if I had overdone the summer thing. But then I got out to King's Road and saw plenty of women who had really overdone it - totally rocking their pasty white arms and legs in tube tops and short skirts and sandals. On the other hand you had people who apparently hadn't checked the weather forecast or paid any attention to the brilliant sunshine who were still wearing winter coats and Uggs. So, I decided I felt pretty good about my sort of summery outfit -glad not to be showing off my white legs nor wearing my winter boots. However, a few blocks later I realize that I had actually overdone it with the layers (it was hot - my thermometer read 26 degrees in the sun; sorry to all the Americans, I have honestly forgotten how to do Fahrenheit) and had to peel off first scarf, then jacket, then hoodie... So after all that, my white arms were all exposed and feeling strange to be let out in the sunshine for the first time since September! My white legs however did stay under wraps until I reached the safety of the park and the anonymity of all the other white pale exposed bodies desperately trying to soak up the first summer sun while blinding those who happened to look upon them without sunglasses.

I'm proud to say that after two days baking myself in the sun my face and arms and the front (yes only the front) of my legs are very tan. I also probably have skin cancer. Sun worshipping is definitely an addiction. I learned it from my mother. Thanks Mom. However, I will keep praying for a cure to cancer rather than curing my sun worshipping addiction (although I do actually wear sun screen and spend less time in the sun now - I am trying... but like any addict, it's a slow process).

Other than the weather and the volcanic ash, the other notable event involved crashing a birthday party and drunk driving.

Of course my partner in crime was my sexy single Italian friend who I always manage to get up to some kind of trouble with. On Saturday night this meant crashing a 30th birthday party. Ok - she was invited to the party. I was crashing it - along with half the Italian population of London who she had also invited to crash the party (By the way, I LOVE the Italians - they are always fun to hang out with - and I promise I'm not saying this just because they read this blog). The night was absolutely perfect for a sunset cruise down the Thames. It was just warm enough to be outside until the sunset and the first Corona of the year tasted amazing (I do believe Corona is the best summer beer) and the music was fantastic thanks to the Ministry of Sound DJ's who kept the party going. The only unfortunate problem was that the party was lacking cute tall men to flirt with or perhaps I was lacking any ambition to do so after a very long hard week at work. All work and no play makes me a dull girl indeed.

But don't worry. As usual, things managed to get a little bit out of control and at one point rather late in the evening after at least 5 beers (on an empty stomach) my Italian Friend and I found ourselves actually driving the boat. Yes, this is indeed the scary truth. We charmed the Captain and took control of that party boat! (I mean did you expect any less of us)? Although we both managed to swerve the boat from side to side of the river causing the Captain to laugh his head off and every so often grab the wheel away from us to ensure that we didn't crash (it's harder then it looks to drive a boat), everyone else was too busy dancing to notice. But never fear, despite the drunk driving, the night had a happy ending and we all made it back to the pier safely! Phew. In fact, I was pleased since a boat ride on the Thames was on my list of "must do before I leave London." And actually getting to DRIVE the boat made it that much better!

But how about this volcano causing massive disruption to global travel? What chaos! I have colleagues stranded all over the world and I am just so selfishly happy that I am not one of them. It was a close call cuz as you remember, I was supposed to be in Brazil this week. My poor colleague I was supposed to travel is still totally stuck there. But to be honest, it's actually not really my colleagues I feel bad for - my company will take care of them. But my heart goes out to all these people who have ran out of money and are sleeping in the airports desperate to get back. Or children traveling alone trying to get back to a parent. Or school groups stranded. Or the people who have missed their wedding or other major life events. I count myself among the lucky.

I was supposed to be off to China today (and in anticipation have already been preparing a 10 things to love and hate about China post). But my flight has been cancelled. I'm actually really disappointed as I was looking forward to the China trip and I'm also nervous what rescheduling will mean. I have a Barcelona trip to see my brother coming up next week (I bet you can't wait for the Spanish post that is surely coming) and I'm worried that trip could possibly be in jeopardy due to the China rescheduling. So you see... life as an International Woman of Mystery can be very hard - especially when volcanoes in Iceland ruin your plans!

Happy Spring everyone!

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