Having just recently returned from a blissful few days in London with my husband I feel compelled to share what could be seen as the first pitstop of our parental journey and the beginning of our marital recovery. Following the intensity and excitement of having two children close together, relocating to another country, changing jobs and lifestyles, we had finally been dealt the ‘get out of jail free’ card and taken the break we’d both been craving.
The idea for this trip came about as the Diamonds and Daisychains team planned to meet up (some of us for the first time) in London’s Borough market. Coincidentally, it was the same date as my 32nd birthday. Combining this – the ‘real’ purpose of our overseas trip – with the desire to escape every day life meant we could leave the rest of our family behind and still retain a virtually, guilt free conscience.
From the moment we stepped onto the plane, our favourite magazines (on home and lifestyle) in hand, we were suddenly hit with the realisation that we were alone, together, no cries to soothe, no tantrums to deal with, no little people to entertain. Our hands were free, our clothes devoid of any obvious staining and our minds prepared to engage in quality ‘us’ time.
The look on my husband’s face (possibly reflected by my own) said it all. Shutting his eyes he grinned and breathed in a sigh of relief. Following aircraft safety procedures which saw us cramped in seats nearest the window, armrests down and belts fastened tightly, we’d ironically been released from domestic confinement and our minds engineered to take flight.
In as much as our thoughts entertained visions of a romantic getaway however, there lingered an ever present fear of failing to reconnect with one another. Had we perhaps grown close as parents yet too far apart as lovers? Would it be possible to talk about anything other than our children for longer than a few minutes? laugh at the same things? and share similar interests? We were about to find out, yet there was no escaping the truth of the situation: we were in it face to face, sitting side by side and chancing our luck at a game that would see us win or loose.
Rooting for us was the area where we’d chosen to stay. London’s Bankside in all its consumerist splendour boasts cafes, boutiques, restaurants and art galleries with tasteful, innovative, hip-chic interiors, clever marketing logos, packaging and merchandise, impeccable service and quality of food and beverage. The distractions were all around us and in every corner we came across some form of entertainment such as a pop-up exhibition or happening street festival.
The shopping was the best I’d ever experienced and finally I could see all the pictures I’d marked and highlighted in my magazines come to life. A particular favourite shop of ours was at the Southbank Centre which was filled with trinkets and gadgets to suit my tastes (a combination of both vintage and modern) and it was in this shop while grabbing as many items as I could to fill a basket, when I called out to my husband “I’m dying in here!” meaning of course that I was in my element.
Adding to the delight of such captivating diversity was our hotel: the Citizen M on 20, Lavington Street in Southwark. It became an instant talking point as we entered the lobby for the first time, fast becoming enamoured with its uber chic, urban design, filled with inspirational quotes, table top books, worldly artefacts and modern displays. It had a 24 hour canteen not an actual restaurant and the people there – a seemingly cultured bunch – sat lounging on sofas and around coffee tables or at desks fitted with iMac computers.
It was as if we’d crash landed onto another planet. Our room too felt a little alien having just enough space for a large, queen size bed and a computerised lighting device that could change the colour of the room into anything from indigo to midnight blue. On my birthday I woke up to purple – my husband had been experimenting with the novelty of this contraption while we lay in bed – note: past the hour of 8 o’clock! The rest of the day was filled with interesting surprises including a private art exhibit followed by cocktails and mouthwatering Asian cuisine at the renowned Hakkassan.
By this time our relationship insecurities had virtually disappeared from our thoughts. We’d experienced a new world together, had tried and tested everything from coffee to stationary, yet half the joy was sharing our differences and learning from each other: myself with my current fascination of medieval England and husband with his love of interior design and fine wine.
Indeed for myself and my husband the trip was all about discovery. Moreover it was about the two of us finding who we really were or who we could be outside domestic life, as well as the bond we thought we’d lost somewhere along our marital path.
Back in sunny Malta, having returned to our daily routine of work, grocery shopping, preparing meals and keeping up with our spirited, young twosome, we’re already plotting our next escape, perhaps jetting off to another city like New York or Madrid, any further suggestions will be gratefully received!