Back in November last year I went on a research trip to the UK for my PhD. I arrived in London jetlagged out of my brain and spent three days striding maniacally from museum to museum. Often doubling over my own path like a history-hungry roomba. Going to bed at 7:30pm and waking up at any time from 2:00am to 5:30am. There were some amazing meals along the way, of course. Including the comforting Bone Daddies ramen above – which I lined up out the door for one chilly afternoon – and the ludicrous Ottolenghi spiced pumpkin cheesecake below – which I ate for dinner the same day, after trekking from South Kensington to Belgravia and back. Holy shit. Look at it. London was what you might expect, but that doesn’t really mean anything. Expectations don’t make things real. I rode the tube rather successfully, despite what Australian public transport has led me to believe about my ability to fuck these things up. I hung out in Hyde Park and took pictures of squirrels. I didn’t see Buckingham Palace or Big Ben or the London Bridge, but I did get a picture of one of the Queen’s spies. My first day, wide-awake and stunned, I wandered through the actually-sometimes-cobbled streets with my breath misting out in front of me. There was holly, actual holly – bright red and glossy green – growing in a public garden. Something I hadn’t seen since those frosty Tasmanian winters of my childhood. There was moss growing along the top of every stone fence, sunk into the mortar, springing from every crack. And in the evenings when I looked out from the window of my dorm – rows and rows of chimneys like Dick Van Dyke might come dancing along them at an minute. I guess I like travel for moments like this, when I step out of my body and can actually think about the world as a whole stupid thing. Not just the one tiny cluster of city lights that from the sky look like party decorations. Not just the thing I make up every day. It’s real. It’s real. It’s real.