I awoke before the sun this morning – not my usual practise, but sometimes these things are unavoidable. As I mooched outside to greet the almost day, I was pleasantly assaulted by a gentle spring-like breeze that offered the promise of jasmine.
It reminded me of a similar early morning in London, an Easter Sunday. I was living at the time with various other world travellers in a somewhat dodgy part of town and we all felt an urgent need to feel sunshine. But, a slight drizzle had set in overnight and showed no signs of abating.
So, we made our own sunshine by donning our very best Easter hats (some quick DIY hat-making with supplies from surprising corners of the kitchen and wet garden was required) and heading off to one of my favourite places, Kew Gardens, for a picnic.
A local friend insisted on giving us a running commentary on the artefacts, statues, walls, buildings and even pathways we passed by and over – although we’re still not quite sure she was on the mark – it seems just about everything on our route can be attributed to Henry VIII.
With the rain still relentlessly trying to dampen our spirits, we ducked into a café for some warmth and caffeine. As we were leaving, we passed in front of a huddle of tourists just as they were lining up a million shots of the building, so we were faced with the clicks and bright flashes of cameras – we ran, thinking the paparazzi had caught up with us.
We found sunshine at last in what we thought was the South African greenhouse (it may or may not exist), and settled for our picnic in a field (albeit postage-stamp size) of fynbos that was curiously close to an acacia tree.
After a beautiful day of sunshine-creating, a lot of belly laughs and dubious history, we headed into town to find more fun. At a central tube station, there was a rumbling yet squeaky sound over head and cocking my head I asked our local ‘guide’ what the noise was.
‘Oh’, she said, ‘that’s an announcement telling you to be careful as you step onto the train because there’s a gap between it and the platform.’ The noise was a voice warning commuters to ‘mind the gap’.
‘Oh honey that’s ridiculous’; I said to her, ‘in Africa, we take the gap’.