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Archive for March, 2011

Yesterday morning I ditched the swimming pool in favour of the previous night’s bottle of wine and a lie in. It was a good choice. On the way to work at 9.45 the sun was shining, sunnies on, pot holes avoided and the air smelt of Mexico. So for my twenty minute commute I reminisced about waking up early in the morning in Chimo, before the grumpy heat sets in and a new day slowly cranks into life.

The smell of fresh air and sunshine in London took me right back to the mornings I spent in Mexico when I was on my own and didn’t speak Spanish. I’d wake up with a sick feeling in my stomach, scared to start the day. I’d get up and walk out onto the balcony (my room was a concrete extension to my Mexican family’s house so the balcony wasn’t as idyllic as it may sound) and look out over Chimo. From there I could see the one road, stretching down towards the sea, muddy and dry before the rains, pot holed and pebbled. Little kids run about barefoot waiting to go to school, making the most of the cool morning air. Punctuated by palms and spiders legs of electric wiring, my view took me all the way to the sea and well into the horizon. Beautiful, terrifying.

Chimo

Before anything, I’d clamber down and head to the sea where my mobile phone stood a vague chance of getting reception and check for texts from Adam, all the way in England. That was the only thing that would stop me feeling sick. Text received and returned I’d turn round to make the 200m trek back home. Before I got back to breakfast, the cool air and fresh smell of morning would be gone and replaced by the stuffy whiffs of heat and refried beans and I’d tuck into my Zucarites (Frosties) and head to the slaughter at whichever class I was expected.

I cried a lot that first week. Then I fell in love with the place, the people, the food, the heat, dust, sea and especially those cold mornings where I’d look out, wave at the children and wait for the day.

I really missed Mexico yesterday. And I really loved North London at the same time, as I wheeled downhill along Granville Road and looked out over the fizzy mirage of the Gerkin and the city ahead of me. The other end of the earth.

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I may be getting a new iPhone on contents insurance. Which will mean I will get back into blogging as I’ll be able to take pictures again and generally re-join the technical age.

It’s a lovely sunny day and I’m quite looking forward to my cycle down to Tottenham Court Road for a Burrito after work. It’s started being sort-of-light as I leave work which gives me such a lift when I twig that I’m not cycling into smoggy blackness. Clocks go back at the weekend as well.

I read a really interesting article about cycling in London and how to promote it and encourage people to do it. Which made me think about how many of my friends give me a worried look when I talk about cycling and say, “I couldn’t cycle in London, I’m too scared.” I totally see their point and I didn’t help matters by giving myself concussion last month. But if we want to get people in this city off the creaking, full-to-burst public transport system, off their backsides and onto two wheels, we really need to be more encouraging.

– Tax breaks are all very well but a bike and bike gear is still an expensive investment that isn’t going to make people take the plunge.
– I’ll be the first to admit that the roads in London are appalling. The number of potholes on my 20-minute commute is a joke. I will count them tomorrow. (Boris. I’m looking at you).
– Cars and especially buses need a new attitude towards cycling. And perhaps cyclists need a new attitude too. We share the road and we have to make it work – it’s all our lives at stake.

There is more. I will think about this one.
Do you cycle in London? Would you? Why not?

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