One of the scariest things about getting older is the ever-increasing rapidity of the passing of time. I mean, how can it possibly be three years since I launched Leighton Literature? I was in Beijing at the time, my second stint, and between then and now I’ve been to Korea, Singapore and Malaysia, travelled all around Thailand and lived in Cambodia, Scotland and Spain before heading back to China again. It’s literally felt like the click of a finger.
Hyde Park, September 2015. Every time I come to London I’m always amazed all over again at how green it is. I try to go and visit a different park each year and I’m nowhere near getting through everything. Hyde Park is the city’s obvious biggie at a whopping 145 hectares. Nabbed from The Church by Henry VIII in 1536, it was initially used for hunting, duels, horse racing and most popular of all in those days, public executions!
Elmbourne Road, June 2015. I always enjoy my annual trips to London. With my nomadic existence the way it is, I only manage to make it back once a year. But these visits feel so good for the soul, a much-needed recharge of my internal battery. I can tune in and out of English conversations, stuff myself with all the foods I miss and go and see my beloved QPR at Loftus Road. These days my London home is Tooting Bec in the southern borough of Wandsworth. An old friend of mine has a house in Elmbourne Road on the edge of Tooting Bec Common; so it’s here that I come to remind myself that I am in fact English.
The Grand Place, July 2008. Once upon a time, the French city of Lille was just a hop, skip and a jump away from my apartment in Brussels. So one weekend I boarded a train and eighty minutes later I was in Lille! My only other French adventure had been a trip to Paris, and while the city of romance hadn’t disappointed, there was something much more laid back and sincere about Lille. Indeed from my first stroll I sensed a distinct lack of pretension. The locals seemed genuinely friendly actually appeared happy. They were also able/willing to speak English. Was I really in France? Lille’s eye-catching epicentre is this massive square, with enough stunning architecture and atmospheric bars and cafes to rival Paris.