An outsiders view ~

Living in London has its perks.

Being a metropolis and a cultural capital of the world, you literally have everything on your doorstep.

You have theaters, shows, museums, endless pop-ups (markets, restaurants, you name it), fairs, celebrations, events, cocktails on some rooftop….

But the thing is, when you actually live here, sometimes you get so caught up in your work life and yourself that you forget this city has all this and more to offer. Yes, London is very cosmopolitan, full of vibrant people and interesting places and activities but from time to time you sort of forget. For example… when do you, that live either on a small town or village or a huge city, go sightseeing? When do you go out, for the sake of it and be a tourist in your own home place?

You are so used to it being there. So close, just outside your door that you take it for granted. And then you stop going to the city center just because technically you can go there any  time you want. However, work is on the other direction, you you just pass by while watching funny videos on Youtube on your commute and it competently passes you by.

 

This happened to me. Like it does to all of us. But then, last week my parents were week. And boy, did I miss my health app to count my steps!

It was fantastic. I forgot what was seeing this city through the eyes of someone that does not live here. My parents, albeit of some age, they are used to travel. They were born in South Africa from Portuguese emigrants. Moved back to Portugal. Their honeymoon was a road-trip through Europe. They didn’t give us a lot of expensive gifts, instead they would take us travelling. Spain, France, Africa, all through Portugal, etc,… So they are more than used to travelling. But still, they were impressed. With the size of the buildings, the size of the city. The amount of bridges. The number of people. The speed of the tube and the number of lines it has.

I forgot how beautiful Southbank is on a sunny afternoon. All the street artists. The music. The street food. The people. The vintage fairs, the shows, the energy, the love I have for it.

Yes, it is hard over here. You work way too many hours, your friends live 1 hour and a half away even though they are in the same city. But then, you have sun over St Pauls and you are in comfy shoes crossing the Millenium Bridge and suddenly, it does not seem so gloomy.

Truth is, I do have a lot to thank for here. And I have to thank my parents for reminding me that.

So go out, explore and fall in love to where you live!

 

Claudia x

My weekend in Rome

That’s right.

About two weeks before my birthday me and my boyfriend were trying to match up our days off – since I had the whole weekend of the 16th of April off.

We kept thinking about places here in UK to go and visit; like Manchester or Liverpool… You know, a weekend away.

Then we saw a fairly cheap price and guess what? Rome was the chosen city!!!

One of his bucket list things to see was the Colosseum. I had been to Rome before and loved it. Win-win!

It was a wonderful weekend full of good food – although I didn’t touch pizza, I am more of a pasta person ahah!

We stayed in a pretty hotel not very central, Eurostars Aeterna. It literally had a bus across the street that would go from there to everywhere; Colosseum, Trastevere, The Vatican…

Trastevere is still my favourite part with the smaller houses but more colourful and all the flowers and the vines and its small restaurants.

Last time I was there I did not visit a couple of things, so this time I took the chance to visit the Sistine Chapel and the Palatine Hills.

Have a look at some pictures and fall in love.

Just like I did.

Claudia x

Chapter 4 ~ 39.623119, -107.635353

It was late evening and Archibald was roaming the house like it was his own. Cassy was already in bed and Mr. Hawtrey was having a night cap with Jonah in the kitchen. Jonah knew exactly what paper Mr. Hawtrey was talking about. He had actually done some research on it.

At first Jonah had thought it was some sort of alphabetic code, but he then quickly figured it out that they were coordinates for somewhere in Colorado.

Mr. Hawtrey opened the folded paper carefully. Long years had passed since he last wrote it for safekeeping. Mr. Hawtrey had liked his drink back in the day, you see, and sometimes despair took the best of him. Pieces of his life were written down in folded pieces of paper in his house and some with family; just in case.

There they were, those coordinates he had written. 39.623119, -107.635353. Neat calligraphy, slightly tilting to the right. Just as he remembered it.

-I am guessing you know what these are- Mr. Hawtrey asked Jonah

-I know they are coordinates for somewhere in Colorado

-Right. You ever been there?

-No, too far and life never took me that way. Cat likes the beach so we usually head over to Florida or so. Cassy likes the Summer Camps there too and I get to get all sunburnt every time!

-I suppose you wouldn’t like to keep an old man company?

Jonah actually wanted very much. But that would mean unplanned holidays which he really couldn’t take. Cat would be mad because that meant that in August they would have to either cut their two weeks short or she would have to go by herself. Cassy would almost plead to go with them. But a break! It was like a sign. Work had been giving him too much time to rethink his life and although it was good, was he everything he could be? Certainly nobody’s life could be all that it ought to be. Jonah felt a little stuck. Not because he didn’t love Catherine. She was the reason he always wanted to come home to. Catherine always stood by his side and together they had created a beautiful life. And Cassy… she was his a reason for living herself. So smart. So pretty, like her mother. She did have the best from them. But still life had become a very big routine and as comforting as it was, it also leaves one itching for something out of the ordinary to happen. Maybe this was it. A little road trip in the sun, in the car he loved to drive. Even if nothing came out of it, it would just be a different day to enjoy. And what were two days off work? He could even call in sick!

-Mr. Hawtrey, how does Thursday sound to you?

-Ah Jonah, Thursday is my favourite day of the week! If you don’t mind me staying for another day or so, it would be lovely and I would be very grateful.

-That is no problem at all. But tell me, what will we be looking for over there?

-Nothing of material value I can tell you. I just left something there long time ago and I just would like to have it back.

___________________””____________________

-Cat, it is just for the weekend. I will be here Sunday night.

-But I already told mum we are going for lunch on Saturday.

-She won’t mind just  once. I will be back as soon as possible.

-What is there in Colorado anyway that your teacher needs you to babysit him for?

-To be honest, I am not too sure. I think it might be a part of his past he didn’t face back then.

-Uhhh, like an illegal family? Maybe he killed someone! He was there for the war, you know?

-Don’t be silly, darling. Whatever it is, I am sending you a picture whenever I can.

-Thanks. And here, I put there an extra pair of underwear just in case.

-Ah-ah. Very funny.

___________________””_________________________

-But daddy, why can’t I go with you?

-You will need to take care of Archie while Mr. Hawtrey and I are away, and you know how your mother is around animals.

-Ahem! – intervened Mr. Hawtrey – I am very sorry dear Cassy, but Archibald will also be going with us. I am sorry Jonah, but I cannot leave him behind, he would be driving Cassy and poor Catherine crazy meowing around the house. No, no, he is coming with us.

-Well then, that is settled, I guess.

Cassy’s eyes were wide open and for a moment Jonah thought she might cry. With a sniff she turned to the one eyed cat and whispered good luck to him. She then walked back to her dad, all business just like Catherine and asked if they needed some pop tarts for the ride.

Jonah couldn’t wait for Wednesday to be over at the office. He must be very sad, he thought, to be excited about this trip with an old man. But he wanted it to be good. And relaxing and that he would return to work recharged and thankful for the life he had here at home.

On Thursday morning the car was packed with bags and lunches and lots of water.

Jonah said goodbye to Catherine when she left for work -she always took Cassy to school while he picked her up- and kissed a very sleepy Cassy before going back to bed and try to sleep the next hour or so when he had to get up.

Archibald woke Mr. Hawtrey that day with a very mournful meow. He knows he will be stuck in the car again, Mr Hawtrey acknowledged.

-Here Archie, lets have some food and then get ready.

Archibald looked at him like that was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard in all his 5 lives.

-Are you ready, Professor?

-Oh quite so! I am sorry to drag you all the way away from home, but hopefully the weather will hold and we can appreciate the views.

They ate while reading the newspapers and Jonah could see Mr. Hawtrey rolling the folded paper through his fingers.

Jonah had looked up the address last Tuesday and had already set the Sat Nav  directions there.

-Aright Jonah, let’s go.

-Let’s go, Professor. Is Archie ok?

-Oh yes, he just dreads car rides. Don’t mind him. I gave him a little something to keep him comfortable.

Looking at Archibald, Jonah wondered if it was one of Mr. Hawtreys sleeping pills and laughing to himself they drove off.

 

______________________________________

Poor Archie back strapped to the car again.

 

Claudia x

The Marble Collector ~ Reading

For some time I had been unimpressed by the books I picked up. Or maybe it wasn’t the books fault, it was me. I just wasn’t up for reading. Which is strange with me, but I will give the books a chance.

The other day while I was window shopping I picked up Cecilia Ahern’s “The Marble Collector”.

As with me lately, it took me about two chapters to get into the book. And then I was swallowed. I couldn’t put it down. I’d have my lunch at work in the office to read. I would read it in trains so full that I am sure I might have sneezed in it (oops!).

It took me two days and a half to get through it. I swear I would have finished on the first night if I had no work to go to or things to do.

The Marble Collector is a brilliantly told story. You will have the Fergus perspective and Sabrina’s. Maybe I related to Sabrina. Maybe I reading it this week had the same effect that finding the marbles had on Sabrina’s life. It’s the far too common feeling that you are comfortable in your life – maybe with the added extra work in your days, even though Sabrina does have kids and I don’t so in fact, she is in the lead with work – when everything is going well, or at least moving forward but inside there is something. Either it is a lack of drama, of too much routine that is slowly making you want something to happen. I was reading the other day about couples and how some people have crappy days and the partner doesn’t realize and the first person is hoping for them to do something wrong so it is justifiable for the first person to explode at them.

Anyway, this is a beautiful representation of how life goes on and moves forward and you are still you but could you be more? The fight within you is still there, but is there really something wrong?

Thank you, Cecilia, beautiful book. Loved reading about life in Ireland in the generation prior to mine – my partner is Irish, so I always find it funny when a story is placed there ah! – thank you for Fergus’s layers and Sabrina’s inner battles. Your book was my marble on a specifically difficult January.

If you have a chance, please read it; it is a fast pacing easy readable book that it will make you stay awake just for one more chapter and then another. Memories are a precious things and sometimes it is the little things that reminds us of another time.

Have fun reading! And me, I’m picking up the 100 year old man again!untitled

Claudia x

 

Thoughts aloud

People overthink. They will say ‘follow your heart’ or ‘ you have to do what it is best for you’. But when it comes for them? All the good advice go out of the window.

Why do people do this to themselves? Why do they have the need to validate a decision, or explain a relationship?

Why do people have to think if they are settling or worry if someone thinks they are just getting comfortable?

We always worry about what other people think and mostly what we think people will think. They are so good at evaluating others peoples lives and decisions and help them planning the next move. Sometimes, when they are actually very good at it that will make them overthink even more about their own decisions. ‘I was just telling so and so that they should do this, how will it look if I do the opposite’?

A the end of the day, it is you life. It is your happiness. Sometimes you will throw yourself at something that wont work out, and maybe you will know that in you heart. But if you want to do it it’s because something will be learnt. The experience will add something to your life. Tt is something you will need to go through.

I know, there are things you can’t change. We can’t all leave our jobs and go work and leave family or other things behind just like that. But little things, things that matter, do them for yourself.

So, live your life. Make your own mistakes. Do what makes you happy.

After all, it is your life. You are living for you. Love the others, listen to them. But live for yourself.

Be happy.

Love,

Claudia x

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Chapter Three ~ Reunion

Mr. Hawtrey adjusted his bag and got ready to leave the bus. Sixteen hours on a bus was not for him anymore. And poor Archibald, having to go to unknown places… the poor cat was definitely car sick. Mr. Hawtrey patted the cat carrier and Archibald meowed weakly.

– Don’t worry Archie, we will be there soon.

Archibald huffed, tired of hearing those words but not being able to leave his carrier.

When the bus pulled over at the station Mr. Hawtrey picked his bag and Archibald’s bag and slowly made his way out of the bus. ‘We are here now, Archie. Open your eyes, you will be able to stand soon enough’.

Mr. Hawtrey had but enough time to make a full circle around the waiting seats before he saw Jonah pulling over.

– Professor, Professor!

Jonah parked the car and gave Mr. Hawtrey a heartfelt hug. Pleasantries were exchanged and soon Mr. Hawtrey was sitting on the front seat and Archibald was curled on Cassy’s lap purring like the happy kitten he was.

Mr. Hawtrey looked much like Jonah remembered. Still dressed with a shirt and a pullover, but now he had allowed himself some jeans as opposed to the khakis he used to wear.

His hair had gone completely grey but still curled at the sides. He had changed glasses and funnily enough, they were now thinner than when he was teaching.

On the other seat, Mr. Hawtrey was doing pretty much the same with Jonah. The boy had put on some weight and lost some hair, but you could still say he had brown hair. He now had a small stubble that could almost be called beard. If Mr. Hawtrey had a say on it, he would tell Jonah to shave it properly – you either had a beard or you didn’t.

Cassy, Jonah’s daughter was a delight. She had lighter brown hair than Jonah and was petting Archibald like a pro.

– She is quite smart you know? – Jonah interrupted his thoughts. Yes, you would think so about your offspring, Mr. Hawtrey concluded. – She loves puzzles and is very creative in solving them. She loves to count and you cannot cheat her on cards.

– Oh? Maybe I should play with her sometime. Have you taught her chess?

– Catherine didn’t think it was appropriate because of her age, but she handles it better than Carson did back in Uni.

Ah, Carson was an old student. Mr. Hawtrey remembered him, his keychain was a chess queen. He often left it and lost it basically everywhere he went. Brilliant boy, but not so good with keeping track of his things.

– Carson actually is working in the same company, you know?

Jonah kept going updating briefly Mr. Hawtrey on what his fellow students were currently doing. Mr. Hawtrey found it curious, Jonah always seemed a bit like a loner in school, how is it that he kept tabs on so many people? This made Mr. Hawtrey think that maybe he had misread the boy. He was focused alright, but surely he must have had a social life outside the classroom.

It was mid-afternoon when the car parked by a yellow house on a quiet road. Mr. Hawtrey could see through the windows the woman he had to assume it was Jonah’s wife. Just as the car stopped, Catherine came to the door to welcome them and help Mr. Hawtrey get settled.

– You can stay in Cassy’s room, and as long as Archibald doesn’t mind dogs, the neighbour’s shouldn’t be a problem. Did you have a good journey?

No, not really. His legs were stiff and his knees hurt from being stuck on that bus. He was tired and didn’t take a nap like he had intended to

– Very pleasant, thank you. Just a tad too long for my age, I guess. You have a lovely house.

It actually was a very nice place. Catherine must love yellow because splashes of it where everywhere. And according to Mr. Hawtrey’s calculations, the sun would be hitting the kitchen in the morning and in the afternoon the living room. How cheerful!

Mr. Hawtrey was shown to his room. Unlike Catherine, Cassy liked purple. Purple curtains, purple bed throws. Purple lamps. Purple flowers on the wall and pillows.

– Mr. Hawtrey, I have purple bedsheets but mummy said you would prefer the white ones. But if you want you can have one of my pillows.

– That is fantastic Cassy. If I need I will let you know. I heard you are a great chess player.

– I am ok. Daddy likes to play it after dinner. Sometimes I win. Do you play? Maybe tonight I could play with you instead. I think mummy is making chicken roast. How old is Archibald? I think he likes me.

In all fairness, Archibald liked pretty much everyone as long as they petted him between the years and gave him food. Cats were supposed to be individual and little gods. But poor one eyed Archie liked people. Mr. Hawtrey often thought he had the soul of a dog. Which turned out good for Mr. Hawtrey. Archibald never failed to keep company although he could have a bit of a snobbish complex if ignored for too long.

Mr. Hawtrey encouraged Archibald to go down the stairs and after some bumps and stumbles on unfamiliar territory, they both made it downstairs.

Catherine was busy setting the table and making the last arrangements while Jonah was looking at some wine.

– I think this red will go nicely with the roast. – Jonah announced.

The four of them gathered around the table taking their seats. There was even a spot for Archibald by the kitchen door.

– You have a delightful family, Jonah. Well done.

– Thank you, I like them – Jonah winked at both wife and daughter. Cassy giggled while playing the peas she was definitely not going to eat. Catherine smiled, quite proudly, if Mr. Hawtrey could say so.

– So Catherine, where did you meet Jonah here?

– Well, I saw him first and thought he was crazy – always a great start thought Mr. Hawtrey – He was at the laundrette and was talking to himself wearing a shirt that for sure should have been included in the wash.

– She thought I was hilarious – obviously a story they had recounted before.

– I thought you were crazy. He didn’t notice me until I “accidentally” dropped the washing powder. He thought it was because I thought he was good looking, but in all honesty, I just didn’t want to be alone with someone talking to themselves for an hour.

Both Jonah and Catherine talked about how they started meeting and eventually moved in and how Cassy had been a blessing. Mr. Hawtrey liked Catherine. She sounded like a good match for Jonah. Cassy was a funny girl, she kept feeding peas to Archibald – who actually did not like them and kept taking them somewhere towards the kitchen.

Mr. Hawtrey loved dinner occasions. He was able to listen while enjoying food. He could not wait to see if Jonah had kept the numbers he had given him. At the end of the day, although he enjoyed spending time with Jonah and his family, he was ready for a little adventure.

 

___________________________________________________________

How do you like Archie?

Claudia x

Chapter 1 – pt.2

The water had to boil twice by the time Mr. Hawtrey reached the kitchen to make the tea.

Richard slipped his boots off and got the spoons from the drawer, waiting on Mr. Hawtrey to pour the tea.

– So, hiding in the shed,huh? Haven’t you been cold?

– Not really, Mr. Hawtrey. Yesterday I went back home for some blankets, and the garden chairs still have pillows.

– Can I ask why haven’t you been sleeping at home?

– Oh, but I do! Mum always goes and says goodnight and I didn’t want her upset. It’s just early in the morning I come here. I like to see the stars fade, you see? But it is so early I feel like a nap afterwards.

– What about school, shouldn’t you be there?

– I know but Howie said I shouldn’t go.

– Howie? Is he a friend from school?

– No, no. My mum says calls him an imaginary friend.

– Ah, I see.

Mr. Hawtrey always wondered about imaginary friends. He never had one and found it quite interesting that people would fish out people or animals out of their imagination to keep them company. Kids had books and computers and dolls. Why not play with that? Still, he liked Richard and he’s funny ideas. And also, it had been so long since he had been a child, that the mechanics fascinated him.

– What does Howie say?

– Well, he wants to play with me all the time. I like playing.

– Don’t you like learning? Or playing with our kids?

– I do and I am going back. But he really did not want me to go, so I said: A few days and then back to school. He was not very happy but……

Mr. Hawtrey disconnected for a bit. He enjoyed listening to Richard go on about his life. It allowed him to think about his. He remembered another boy, another time telling him stories. He should definitely call Jonah to see how he was.

– Anyway Mr. Hawtrey, thank you for the tea. My mum will be worried now.

– Yes, yes off course. Tell her I say hello. And make sure you go to school. Archie gets very impatient when he doesn’t know what is happening.

Richard went his way and Mr. Hawtrey got back to his newspaper. He was a man of habits, after all, and a half read newspaper was not something he liked.

But Mr. Hawtrey could not take Jonah out of his mind. Yes it had been years since they last spoke. Maybe he should write him a letter. He might have kids by now, Mr. Hawtrey thought as he put the newspaper finally down. ‘I shall go and see him!’

Jonah had been one of Mr. Hawtrey’s students years and years ago. Brilliant little kid he was. And curious too. As he remembers, Jonah went to work in IT somewhere. He was sure he had his number somewhere – ‘Well, I won’t find it sitting down, will I Archibald?’

 

 

Any interest of knowing what Mr. Hawtrey wants with Jonah?

Claudia.