Every new romance is defined by firsts. That series of tests which will inevitably lead to a lasting love or put a grinding halt to any fairytale designs your romantic subconscious had about ‘forever’. The first date, the first kiss, the first house… but before the possibility of sharing any of these on social media, the starting point to any new relationship, is quite simply: the first impression.
This writer, better known in these parts as “the Aussie” – a rare yet exotic breed here in the South-of-England – brought over to the land of afternoon tea by “that new League player trying his hand at Rugby”, has recently found herself in a new relationship. So far, we’ve flirted with the possibility of longevity, we’ve tested boundaries and it looks like it might be getting serious…
Bath and I have been ‘going steady’ for just over three months now. A return flight to my hometown of Sydney- where it’s still hitting 29 degrees Celsius at 5pm – is sitting, untouched, on my Qantas Frequent Flyer account. It could be the Jane Austen Effect, but despite having a glossy magazine pedigree, writing in the realms of entertainment and style (shockingly my resume does read slightly longer than a certain three-letter acronym), I’ve recently been longing to divulge the magical moments of my new love affair - with this Georgian city.
Having entered the monogamous stage of our relationship, between city and resident, I can venture back to that aforementioned first impression. It wasn’t the stunning architecture of the Cathedral, the bright brick of Great Pulteney, Stuart Hooper’s ears or even my maiden voyage down Walcott St. It all began, like most great tales in England, with a fascination over the weather.
I’ve observed an unofficial commitment by the English, particularly new acquaintances, to ask me how I’m dealing with the temperature before I’ve had time to pull my gloves off for a handshake. At first, I assumed this total obsession was a cultural quirk we convicts didn’t pick up on our way ‘downunder’, but predicting the forecast from hour to hour has since become somewhat of a sport. And it wreaks havoc on my wardrobe selections.
I feel a total mind-bending confusion when I’m standing in my knickers, towel wrapped around my head, just staring at the possibilities of an outfit. Ever since I got caught in a classic Converse-trainers-and-blazer combination whilst battling hail and wind that could ground a 747, the daily ritual of ‘getting dressed’ has turned into a game of chicken with Mother Nature. I refuse to commit to a jacket option – warm or waterproof or none - until the Very. Last. Second.
There is however, one guarantee: it’s going to be cold. So cold, I can sit in my car for 30 minutes waiting for the ice encasing it to melt. I now own more cashmere than cotton and have stopped panicking when I can’t get my perpetually chapped lips around a conversation at the Rec because my cheeks have frozen me into the new Renee Zellweger. Despite my seemingly frosty mood leading me to ‘unfollow’ a large number of my Australian friends who were clogging up my Instagram feed with bikini shots, I’ve embraced everything my adopted city of 8.5 degrees or below has to offer.
I now find it appropriate to dress like Kate Moss at Glastonbury on a daily basis, regardless of whether I look a little more like her majesty in my Barbour jacket. I’ve learnt pouring a glass of red at 430pm is completely acceptable, because it’s dark outside. Vanilla White Hot Chocolates at Society Café are now a firm diet staple (Weight gain you wonder? Please, tracksuit pants are about as naked as you can get in this climate without frostbite, who would ever know if I have abs or not?) When it comes to the hassle of tanning, it’s a case of neck-up and hands only, there’s no reason to be out of bed before 9am, as nothing is open until 10am, it’s constant snuggle appropriate temperatures on the couch and finally, there is always something to talk about…
With the topic of how I’m handling the cold settled and with that, our first impression out of the way, my relationship with Bath continues to produce heart-racing firsts. And like a teenager on a Facebook, I’m going to share them all.