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Heaven is a place on earth

 The author in Greenwich, 6.2.16

The author in Greenwich, 6.2.16

Most of the time, I find it hard to be ‘present’ and ‘mindful.’ But sometimes, the sheer beauty of the world and being alive swamps me and I feel like I can’t breathe for the joy and wonder of it all. It’s intoxicating.

This past weekend was my last in London before I move to Gothenburg, so I decided to have a proper day out. I hadn’t been to Greenwich since Tom and I went there in autumn 2013 to take some new press shots (and my LinkedIn profile photo, lol), and I’m always struck by how different it feels to the rest of London. Greenwich Market is full of food stalls serving exotic dishes from around the world — I’ve never felt so spoilt for choice as a new vegan. And the town itself is pretty and quaint, like a mini Oxford.

Within a few minutes’ walk, you’ve got the Greenwich Observatory housed within the sprawling Greenwich Park, offering expansive views of London. You can take a stroll along the Thames, beach-like with its sand and pier. Then there are the Naval College Gardens, which feel like you’re strolling around a palace. I also visited the chapel there for the first time and saw the stunning paintings on the walls, before heading to The Painted Hall on the other side of the path and finding a whole room covered in the most mind-blowing art. How someone can produce artwork of that scale is beyond me.

But it wasn’t the beauty of Greenwich that melted me that day. At least, not in the usual way.

 A terrible picture of The Painted Hall

A terrible picture of The Painted Hall

It was the first sip of orange Lucozade before catching the train home, when I was super thirsty. It was sitting down on the train and opening my Kindle to read a book, and how beautiful a Kindle is to use, and the fact that I’m lucky enough to have one. It was feeling beaten and invigorated by the wind and cold, and the magic of changing weather. Also, the fact that we’re lucky that, in the UK, we don’t suffer from the severe natural disasters that many other countries do.

It was the children struggling up the stairs at Old Street station in their ‘robot costumes’ (read: wearing cardboard boxes), holding up the other commuters — but no one minding because the whole scene was so adorable. It was browsing books in Waterstones for an hour and finding a new one to enjoy. It was thinking about how Tom and I walked many of the same steps in Greenwich a couple of years ago, and how precious it is to have good friends. It was the friendly man at the coffee stall in Greenwich Market, the pleasure of taking the DLR compared to the Piccadilly line, the barbershop quintet practising in the chapel when we went in, my new coat. It was the joy of being alive.

I guess Belinda was right.