I went out the same way I came into London: with a bang. Or, more accurately, in a drunken stupor. My almost last weekend in the city before heading home for Christmas was more action-packed than the whole month of November. On Friday night, I went back to Barfly and saw A Tribe Called Red, a Canadian electronic trio who fuse First Nations powwow music with dance music. Saturday, my cousins from Wales arrived and we spent the morning wandering around Camden market, the afternoon in Trafalgar Square where we found a shrine for Nelson Mandela and a group of people dancing and singing in celebration of his life outside the South African embassy, and the evening having a drink Leicester Square before seeing The Woman in Black. Sunday was spent lying in after a late night out and then heading down to Oxford Circus for a couple of hours to do some Christmas shopping. And then early Sunday evening my best mate from Australia arrived, as he was in London and we had planned to get a drink. Lots of time to kill and enjoying catching up resulted in more than a few drinks, as we went from beers in pubs to 2-for-1 cocktails at the local cocktail bar.
We ended up where I’ve ended up after so many big nights out in Camden: the Regent’s Canal, sketchy as ever on a quiet Sunday night. And now I’m lying in bed, hungover as I ever have been my first semester in London, wrestling with the knowledge that I have three papers to write by the end of the week. I’m really looking forward to going home for Christmas. After I get back to Vancouver I’m going over to Victoria for a couple of days to stay with my best friend there before heading up to Whistler with my family for Christmas itself. And then back to London in the New Year for a second semester in this great city. There’s still so much more of this experience I feel like needs time to sink in, and I haven’t even been anywhere else yet. I’m looking forward to being here when Spring turns to Summer and the weather gets warmer again before taking off to see some more of Europe after exams.
I’ve been writing most of these blog posts from Tower 47, our closest little coffee shop. It’s also a fantastic music shop, and even, as I’ve only just discovered recently, does lessons in its studios on the second floor. If I find a job and have a little more money in the New Year I’m hoping I can take at least a couple of drum lessons there. As much as I’ve become sick of how touristy Camden is in some ways, I couldn’t have picked a better place for music, where I am on Chalk Farm Road. The Roundhouse across the street, Barfly on the corner, Tower 47 for all your music gear and for live jazz on Sundays; I’m really happy to be getting to spend a year here.
Living by the canal in Camden, I’ve slowly become more aware of the effect it’s had on me. Having somewhere to go that’s a little bit removed from the crowdedness of the High Street has been a wonderful thing. Life abroad has been about getting around to things slowly, but the most meaningful experiences aren’t the ones that you plan meticulously. They’re the ones that take you completely by surprise.