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  • Writer's pictureMaren Hunsberger

Beaches, outreach, friends, and Christmas time: December so far in London

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

This month in London has been darker and colder than ever, but still bright (and full of lights of a different kind). Right after finishing our most recent paper, a group of friends and I Googled 'beaches near London'—this search turned up a place called Broadstairs, a tiny, sleepy seaside village in the southeast, about a two-hour train ride from the city. It was so relaxing—we spent all day walking in the cool, damp, salty air, through the shops and streets, and along the main beach.

After a fortifying break for tea and scones and other assorted snacks in a tiny tea shop in town, we set out on our walk toward Botany Bay. Alongside good friends with whom to explore a wild beach, we couldn't go wrong. There were all kinds of winding paths through sprout fields, past schools and houses and castles, and after about an hour of wandering, Botany Bay came into view around the corner.

We found a meandering path cut through the cliffs down onto the beach, and were stunned to then find ourselves suddenly under these stone giants, whose heads we had just been walking upon, with the ocean right next to us. The cliffs loom over you as you walk along the soft, flat beach, covered in lichen and moss, textured in rough, rectangular chunks.

We wandered along the beach until dusk, climbing and clambering, and then decided to head back. On our way, we noticed twinkling lights out at sea, and realized that we could see what was probably France (or possibly Belgium) from where we were standing!

We made it back to the village and spent time chatting and poking around an old bookshop-turned-pub called The Chapel. We rounded out the night with fish and chips at a seafood fry-up restaurant and then hopped on the train back home, tired, damp, content, and fulfilled.

Later that week, one of our group had organized a clothes swap for the Imperial College Environmental Society—we all really enjoyed learning more about how the clothes industry perpetuates waste and unnecessary environmental stress, and we all picked up some cute secondhand items. I'm really excited to try and find more (if not all) of my clothes at charity shops—high-quality items with a history that will fit into my already established style. Not only is it much more affordable, but this kind of clothes purchasing habit has human rights benefits as well as environmental benefits. This cutie was there keeping everyone company, running around under the tables and licking crumbs off the floor in her very own stylish jumper!

This past week, Jane--a friend of mine--invited Alison, another friend from the program, and I to help her with a public engagement event. At a conference for design professionals, we presented exhibits and simple, hands-on experiments about the science of flavour and how we experience food. This was to help demonstrate the concept of multi-sensory design, or design of packaging and spaces and, well, anything really, that engages more than one sense at once. The event was at the University of the Arts London in Kings Cross, a huge, gorgeous, brick-metal-and-glass building full of workshops and maker spaces. The Kings Cross area is artsy and brimming with funky installations, and this one caught our attention on our way home. 

Next week is the last week of our first term! I can't believe it's here already, and in just two short weeks, all my loved ones from home will be here for a Christmas visit. Just two more days of class and one more paper, and then winter I come. In the mean time: Cassie, a wonderful friend who I've known since childhood has been on a whirlwind adventure for over a year through Thailand and all over Europe, and just before she heads home, she stopped off in London. It's been so fantastic to see her—and she was here just in time for Christmas decorating!

I'm looking forward to finishing up my last essay, making new videos, and preparing for having my family here with me in London. If there's one thing that's really been made clear to me this month, it's that friends and adventures and keeping busy with projects help keep you grounded in the present moment—they keep you here, keep you sane, and keep you happy. And I'm so grateful for all the compassionate, loving, adventurous people in my life!

What keeps you #cozy around the #holidays ? What's your favorite thing to do when the weather is gloomy, or when you're getting ready for festivities? Do you like the beach in the winter? I'd love to know!

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