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The Art of Pain

The works of June Okochi Voices of Pain Voices of Pain is a multi-track montage of individuals’ reports living with or affected by sickle cell.

This UK based audio-documentary is a heartfelt and insightful production which captures the featured individuals’ first hand experiences and themes of pain, suffering, trauma but more importantly, resilience, hope and dreams that has enabled them deal with their pain & suffering.

The collection of untold accounts is an unedited and raw artistic expression of people aimed at finding meaning in their suffering and with art forms of poetry, prose, language, sensory, colour and sound which brings their narratives to life.

Created by June Okochi
Sound Production by MistaBooks
Music - The Path by Sean Beeson Click here to listen Enjoy! Portraits of Pain Artists always aim for an expression of their works to depict a true depth of humanity and human suffering with objectives that the recipient can recognize these expressions and connect to their everyday lives. For me, that sense of liberation to express art in forms that may depict pain, suffering and humanity has been the foundation for my work, Portraits of Pain. I use photography as a form of art to express differently, to tell mine and other’s stories, living with our genetic condition (sickle cell) through visual imagery. Portraits of Pain uses photography as an art form to express the different motions that come with sickle cell. It’s a collection of abstracts, that which can’t be seen: - the hidden disease, the pain, the fatigue from anemia, mental health and depression, the isolation, frustration, the red cells shaped liked a sickle, the damage, the resilience, suffering, hope, love, the battle and the fight to overcome. More importantly, I wanted to bring to life the actual subjects of the portraits, the warriors of society, those who go through pain and suffering and who are behind the scenes just “getting on with it”. I collaborated on this project with: UK based photographer, Jim Higham Nigerian based creative director, Ijeoma Okochi-Agwu London production team: Mica Marshall and Thomas Okochi. The models I featured are all London based individuals affected by the condition. This work was publicly exhibited at Imperial College, London in 2019. Pain that assails me ; Sometimes I have the urge to go into the mountains or a remote beach and just scream out loud at the top of my lungs to let out this pain I have bottled up inside for many years We weren’t born rich:
We are not alone. In our world, we may be individuals but we feel the same pain in our bones, shed the same tears, share this same flawed blood cells, walk through the dark together. Hidden behind the veil: Masking my pain has become a skill The Crisis : The pain and crisis come in the middle of the night and all I can do is call 999 and wait Son, Give Us A Minute: "No child deserves to suffer so much pain and all we can do is sit here broken-hearted, helpless, praying that this pain goes away. We know we can't take his pain away and that’s the worst position any parent can find themselves” I Cannot Lose Her Always ready to carry her when she falls (from this pain) because if the system fails her, I certainly wont. Why Me? I used to seek reasons for my pain. I have normalized my suffering. I am no longer a victim. I have found meaning in this pain. #StopDStigma: Sickle on my sleeves A millennial generation who are not inhibited by their pain or suffering and have an exposé of their lives on social media and on hashtags but are caught up by the stigma their parents, grandparents and communities have carried with them. "Hush child! Don't let them know you have sickle cell" The life and death of a blossoming rose: Blossoming a very painful flower, and pricked by a deadlier thorn. Please give blood! It helps takes my pain away. Zoned Out: Sickle cell became that thing that was always ticking along in the background like a white noise, it just sits there and every now and then emerges and demands attention (through pain) at its own convenience. The Sickle On the Heart: I look nothing like what sickle cell and its has put me through. In these dark shadows, shines a light. My heart and my mind is a provenance for how I deal with this pain. 'Weltschmerz': It's this deep pain about the imperfections of my genes Enduring Anguish: A type of pain ever isolating and crushing in its all-consumingness Sickles, the death of us: To be familiar with an ongoing sense of death, organ damage, pain and suffering feels like a constant visitor & an unwelcome guest we have to deal with Trapped: Like being caught in a trap, and never being freed from this pain A World Without Sickle Cell: I often imagine what my world could look like without this pain I Only Cry At Night: As a black man, I was taught to never show weakness or pain Eyes Wide Open: As a child, what I knew was what I knew, and I didn’t necessarily draw equivalences with other people’s lives to see if my experience was the same as theirs. I just went with the flow and the pain Look closely, I Am Sick And in the end, with this pain, I have learnt how to be strong alone Is Love Enough?: Love is beyond just a genotype and genetic imbalances. In future generations, must come poetic justice The Helpless Tears: As parents, we want to protect our children from pain, suffering, traumas and distress but how can you control the suffering and pain that comes with the flaws in their DNAs? How do you watch your child suffer and you cannot save them? Glass Full; Like drowning each day in the spring I need to survive the pain by treading water constantly You Can Do It: The forgotten stories of parents who not only raise a child but give life to their sick babies living through pain. Blood that runs through my little fragile veins: Life Changing Exchange; Exchanging my blood to receive new blood. It’s the blood of kind strangers, members of the public who donate their blood that keep people like me pain free, healthy and alive. A Warrior who Beat Life Spans: "I am awake. I feel liberated, I AM NOT ON BORROWED TIME" Protecting those We love: Of what use is a feeling of helplessness that can't take the pain away? Life Support: Trapped in her pill pot and masked by her lipstick. Who sees the pain? A death unseen: (Avascular Necrosis); The pain feels like a Barbed Wire is constricting the bone and then it eventually dies. Mummy, you are my rock:
The impact on families (especially mothers) as choice becomes a primary focus in the context of social perspectives when considering to have children who could live with pain and a disability for the rest of their lives. Strengthening ties with loved ones; Allowing me to be helped, loved and saved. He remains the hand that always helps me up through pain Letting my tears drop: sealing my pain in these tears and finding solace and strength in letting go. The burden of guilt parents carry watching their children undergo excruciating pain. In loving memory: We leave the light on and the red roses for those who have gone too soon, for those who will never feel this pain ever again. Ever again Sickle cell anemia is a blood disorder that causes the red cells to be shaped like sickles and therefore restricts oxygen from circulating within the vessels, the organs and other parts of the body, causing excruciating pain, organ damage, fatigue, strokes, avascular necrosis, sickle cell retinopathy, cardiovascular problems, and sometimes early mortality. #sicklecell #pain #health #art #photography

Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart: Alicia Keys

"There are those among us who are blessed with the power to save what is loved by another. But powerless to use this blessing for love themselves".

Alicia Keys

Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart, The Element Of Freedom, 2009

This song hits every part of my core.

From lost lovers, to broken hearts, family rejection, loss of friends, loss of grandparents, grieving loved ones gone too soon, euphoric recalls, blue animations, elusive epiphanies, moving to a different country, going back to it, staying in a new city, puzzled by cognitive dissonances, frustrated by writer blocks, traveling alone, peering into cotton clouds through airplane window seats, kissing and waving goodbyes in airports, coach and train stations, childhood traumas and adult ones, unintended smokescreens, high reaching ambitions, coy pitfalls and soft landings, road trips and rail journeys to off the beaten paths, showing vulnerabilities, knowing responsibility early in childhood, through betrayals and false claims of clairvoyance, being sleepless in cities and dreamy in some, rides in ambulances, solo hotel check-ins and calls for room service, silly dramas to petty jealousies, my creativity, to remarkable admirations, through reconciliations and bewildering wide berths, hospital corridors, misconceptions and unconscious biases, starting new jobs and office leaving dos, memories of Prince (RIP), to illusions and delusions, paving through my lack of judgment of unrequited love, misreads of potential ‘hook-up’ tensions and non- reciprocal crushes, taking my ‘L’s taking my f^cking ‘L’s, settling well with an open mind, getting lost watching the waves of the sea, through to beautiful sunset walks on sandy beaches, scary nightmares, accepting what I need and not what I want, mid-summer meadows and depressing winter dark nights, self compassion, ongoing discovery and therapy for my core, impulsive spontaneity, being too upset I could barely stop sobbing, self- pity and self-remorse, absurd logics, silhouettes of seasons, navigating through pretty tough ambivalences to a coordinated mind, growth and beauty, wonders to thunders, pillow talks to pillow tears, forgiving myself and trying to forgive others, experiencing sensual luxuries and letting go, having great times and understanding the need for hardships, obscure arguments to pent up feelings, my foolishness and lack of intuition, times of (re)healing, recovery, past bouts of reactions stemming from a young lady with a bad temper, good control and balance, bounce backs from serious sickness episodes, navigating the world on topics such as world wars, global terror and child poverty, a desire to long for more, fears of an early mortality, meditating through silence, thriving on rejection, simulating regrets and mistakes, a silly Catholic guilt to dumping religion, crying over jazz, northern and neo soul, finding my path through rock bottom, shifting my personal narratives and (re)basing them on self worth, loving the framework of my identity as a dual national of 2 beautiful countries, lingering on passionate kisses missed, teenage love affairs, the painful resulting anticipation stemming from distant relationships, learning to receive and relax, through my pursuit of hedonism, finding my cause, dancing nights away under the illumination of the moon, holiday romances that were some of the best times of my life, understanding true fulfillment, understanding true happiness, through wandering thoughts, a show of affection, hospital beds, rebel hearts, magical fascinations and flat feels, holiday blues, warm cuddles, trying new interests, dumping them, upholding my values through reassertion, living my fantasies, the tale of love stories, writing poetry, drinking beautiful red wine and getting emotional, every time I am being told I am a new god-parent, getting off a horse after riding it, boat rides in Europe, lost in a good book, lost in a city, meeting strangers and falling in lust with them, Saturday long showers or hotel bath soaks, when he travels and I miss him, in my silences and me-times, through selective memories, to missing my family, through artist dates, morning pages, journal entries, unforgettable laughters, lonely Christmases in my 20s without family, Tuesday dates, spending New Year’s Eve and New Year mornings on a hospital bed, giving my fish pets away, being risk averse, being restless and loving inertia, being broody and yet unbothered about kids, through hopeless nomadic episodes to being dynamic and unconventional, floating in water, hating astrology and swearing by it, understanding unconditional love, crushing a dysfunctional sense of responsibility and letting go, finding balance, certainty and self love.

Finding balance, certainty and self love.

Finding balance, certainty and self love.

...and without a doubt finding the ELEMENT of my FREEDOM.

Thank you Alicia Keys for the gift of music, one that I will resonate with.

From here, in life, and till my dying day. This song means a lot to me and represents too many things in my life. I can’t write it all. It saved me. 10 years past and I haven’t stopped listening to it.

#trysleepinginmybed 10 years on and I am still in love 😍

Krakow; The City of Amber and Literature

Recently, I have been re-living my time in Krakow through subtle reminders in recent events. From cultural similarities found in a recent trip to Budapest to the series on BBC 1’s ‘World On Fire’ or news few weeks ago, where Krakow was named the best city break destination in Europe for a 3rd time running. I see why. So I decided to re-live memories in the way I know how to do best. We had arrived the former Capital mid-afternoon on a beautiful winter Wednesday evening. The sun was just setting in this cold winter city, South of Poland. The energy of the eastern chill biting in its usual welcoming pattern, translating shorter days to longer dark, cold nights. The solstice still a week away. I said to Neil, “I cannot survive here”. He responded saying “you absolutely can”. I sighed wondering why I decided to come at this time of the year. We usually have these winter pre-Christmas European jaunts where we aim to visit Christmas markets in Eastern Europe. It’s become our couple tradition. I wondered how I was going to survive this biting freeze for the next 4-5 nights. My health condition does not do well with adverse cold weather conditions. Temperatures had dropped to -16 to even -20. We arrived our hotel, the Grand Hotel, Krakow, it was a welcoming embrace of warmth, away from the chilly bite of the evening. The Grand Hotel is about a century old, beautiful and traditionally conserved. It had a post Victorian interior with low hanging grand chandeliers; very ornate and golden. There were a couple of vintage telephones in the lobby, other furniture persevered in form. The rooms were huge, classically decorated in a truly grand vintage style. The room had a comfortable lounge area, a queen size bed and a spacious bathroom. The windows were bay-like but not specifically, very high up the ceiling. They were huge. Each morning, I would sit on top of them and watch the world go by, peering through the window panes or just read a few pages of my novels right after breakfast. It was so European. It reminded me of my time in France and how much I adored Juliet Balconies especially in le Provence. Its become one of my little favorite quirks. So after unpacking and getting warmed up, we wander into town, first into the Christmas markets. The market, Rynek Glowny, is the largest market square in Europe, so it appears. There were food stalls, cafes and coffeehouses, mulled wine stalls, shops, horse and carriages, arts and crafts, Christmas décor, everything. It was so cold, I certainly couldn’t feel my face. The markets were well lit. It was beautiful. There were street lights, fairly lights, Christmas lights and candle lights. The varying colors of light illuminated against the stalls and this brought a lot of color and life to this cute town square. It was beyond magical. After a bit of short lived wanderlust resulting from the biting chill, we stopped for some traditional Polish dumplings and some seasonal hot sizzling winter soup. The dumplings were one of the tastiest things I have ever eaten in my life. Too tasty I ordered some more. Blending with street food culture, we stood and ate in the freezing cold as there was hardly anywhere to perch. The town was buzzing. They were Europeans, Americans, and Australians, name it. It gave me joy that people still love travelling even to countries in the East of Europe notwithstanding the unpleasant harsh winter weather. There was a light rain, some music in the background and the Christmas lights shone so brightly, contrasting against the cold nights. It brought everything to life. Neil warmed my palm - each at a time as I removed my gloves to take each mouthful of a very hot watering spoon of soup. And eventually some mulled wine. Thinking about that moment, I would say it probably would make the list of best romantic travel moments between us. The beauty of memories eh? Then there was Auschwitz… 2018, 14th December, at 9:41 a.m, I am seated in the coach heading to Auschwitz, completely lost in translation and trapped in my anticipation which stemmed from a choice to go see what I read in the history books. Not knowing how to frame my thoughts, what to expect, how I would feel. I felt weak, cold and my heart raced. Transported physically and lost in my own world as I travel through snowy roads, woodlands, empty fields and quiet towns from Krakow, headed west to the prisoner camps wondering what the journey was like for some of the Jewish Poles who may have traveled these roads and were deported to the concentration camps in thousands. We arrived. We explored. We saw. We paid our respects. It was jarring, absolutely goring, too dark to put into words. It was one hell of an unfathomable day. I had no words. But in minus temperatures, the least I could do was walk those hours in the concentration camps of the innocent Jews, Poles, Gypsies and others who were tortured, murdered and exterminated for no reason. It was the least I could do. My heart was too heavy 1.3 million people – one country! Children Women Men I guess we will never understand the depth of the heart of man. Well, there lies the difference between reading the history books and experiencing or visiting these sites. The reality is profound. It’s a reminder that life is fragile and everything else is mundane as hell. No words. It’s all too cold, dark, morbid and sobering. I had to down lots of reds that night with Neil as we decided to try not to dwell on things we saw and heard and read. So after getting all the morbid stuff out, the rest of our trip consisted of visiting the Grand medieval Royal Castle overlooking the banks of Vistula river, the National Museum, Schindler’s Enamel Factory, the Salt Mines, Florian’s Gate and the Defend Trail, St Mary’s Cathedral, more time at the Market square and the fascinating Cloth House. We also wandered the Old Jewish Quarters and stopped for snacks and a drink. One thing I noticed was that there was a lot of Amber in Krakow. Beautiful Amber in shops, in jewelry stones, just everywhere in your face- whether it was Oskar or Baltic Amber, it’s embedded in an inextricable history of Krakow so I had to buy a little piece in jewelry for keepsake. On our penultimate night, we decided to dine in style in a beautiful restaurant called Szara Ges. It was located bang in the middle of the market square; a restaurant termed ‘The Essence of Polish Cuisine’, apparently Michelin starred. We found it wandering the town the day before and thought we could try it for dinner. We did. The food was absolutely divine. I had a candle lit, warm and cosy 3 course dinner with my buh, celebrating love and travel on a crisp white table cloth with beautiful wine, a bunch of perfectly cut and arranged floral red roses, superb for the winter vibe, dim lights, as the restaurant played a beautiful low-toned playlist of the dreamiest and finest Christmas Carols. God, it was one of the most elegant and romantic nights of my life. We marveled at the culinary excellence, the gorgeous décor and the perfection of fine dining. We discussed visiting a beautiful town in Poland called Nysa but time was of the essence. Did you know Krakow was listed as the European Capital of Culture in 2000? Krakow also really reminded me a lot of Prague and a little of Reykjavik. And guess what, even a fact closer to my heart is that the beautiful city is listed as a UNESCO city of literature, so says the hopeless litterateur. But Krakow is not just the City of Literature, it’s got compelling history, its history on WWII and the occupation of the Nazi Germany. It’s got remarkable European architecture, a reputable streak of film on a local site and its call to Hollywood fame, the ‘Game of Thrones’, certainly a rich culture on film and theatre, poetry and the arts, history, art deco, and noveau, beer and Vodka, culture and food (especially those Pierogi dumplings and Polish sausages). We had some special tea and cakes brought up to us complimentary of the Grand Hotel on our last night and watched ‘Love Actually’ before bed and I was graced by the city’s beauty. Thank you Krakow.

81 Shades of London; by a Google Local Guide

Have breakfast at 34 Mayfair Visit Portobello Market in Notting Hill Grab a bite of street food at Borough Market Visit the Mudchute City Park and Farm Go to Kensington Palace Get on a steam train at Ongar Epping and pop your head out like the movies. Watch a play or two at West End, Soho Visit the Backyard Cinema, its so street Visit Barbican, explore art at the galleries, or have high tea in the conservatory by the fountain terrace. If you love poetry like me, you can either read or listen to poetry at the Poetry Café in Coven Garden. Visit Grenadier, England’s oldest Pub for a pint, there is a lot of war history there. Invite your beau or belle to the Electric Cinema at Nothing Hill and cosy up with them on the bed lounges watching a movie. If you love a G&T, go to the eclectic Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour in Covent Garden If in London at Christmas, go shopping at Oxford Street, God the lights!!! Walk or hike in Epping Forest Late night funky music at the Warwick. It’s a pub that turns into a late disco. Grab a Turkish kebab at the Wood Oven, South Woodford. It’s the best in London. Visit South Bank, there are loads of things to do Grab a night cuppa from an Italian Barista at Cafe Nero at Warren Street While you wait at St Pancreas anytime, go to the lobby bar of the Renaissance hotel for a glass of wine or champagne Walk King’s Road, Chelsea to World’s End. Visit Charles Dickens Museum and travel back in time. Swim at Hampstead Heath Ponds Go to the V&A museum, there is always so much art to see. Visit David Zwirner, Huxley Parlour or the Photographer’s Gallery for free. Eat fab Chinese Food at China Town Picnic on the top of Primrose Hill Check out the Jazz Cafe in Camden Have lunch at Little Venice by the canals and lake Visit Charlotte Street for original family owned restaurants. Brunch at 45 Jeremy St, it’s part of Fortnum and Mason Wanderlust in Hoxton for some arty and hippy vibes. Hop on the Eurostar from St Pancreas to Paris or Brussels Have a weekend stroll at Holland Park and see the fab Kyoto Garden Fine dine in Corrigan’s Mayfair Get on the cable car from Royal Victoria station to the 02 Have lunch at St Christopher’s Place in Bond Street Get a warm fresh waffle outside Marble Arch station, street Belgian style Visit Kew Gardens, its floral and magical especially in Spring and Autumn If at Christmas, have an experience of Christmas in Richmond, Santa usually comes!. And so does the sight of deers. If you like jazz, visit Ronnie Scott’s at Firth Street. Stroll to see the magnificent Wallace Collection If you love meat, eat at Hawksmoor, City of London Visit the National Gallery, its beautiful Walk Westminster bridge at sunset and get views of the sun setting on the Thames as the lights illuminate the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. Get lost in English lavender fields at Mayfair Lavender Farm and pretend to be in the Provence. Have cream tea at Claridges Visit Hampton Court’s Palace Spend time at the Maison Assouline Book Store at St James’s Enjoy the vibe of the fabulous library room at the Arch Hotel in Marble Arch. Attend a hip hop brunch and bottomless Prosecco, there are so many places. Do your morning Sunday run along Regent’s Canal If you like French food, reserve a table at the La Poule au Pot, Chelsea And if you think you are a sommelier, try Les 110 de Taillevent, the concept is fascinating. Visit Leighton House Museum and be surprised, Try Piano Works, Farringdon Night life? Club at Cargo or Trapeze, Shoreditch Eat at Gillray’s Steakhouse at the Marriott, Westminster as you enjoy the river view. Soul parties at Blue Kitchen, Shoreditch Eat decadent cake at Cutters and Squidge Soho Go paint art on a canvas at Griffin Belle at Vauxhall sipping beer, wine or a nice glass G&T. its artnight! If you are in London 1st Saturday in June, dress up and go see the horses with her Majesty the Queen at the Derby. Buy Vintage items from Spitafields Attend the Chelsea Flower Show in May If you love flowers and you are not in London in for the Chelsea flower show, stroll to Columbia Road Flower Market in a Sunday morning in London’s East End. Have a glass of champagne at the Champagne Bar, Harrods If you are like morbid, spend a day at the Highgate Cemetery Check out God’s own Junkyard in my former neighbourhood, Walthamstow. Have 24 hour breakfast at VQ Aldgate 360 views at Gavin at Windows, Michelin starred restaurant Get on the river bus and ride the Woolwich Ferry on the Thames. See the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral Have lunch at Walthamstow Village, it’s very chic. If you are a writer, visit the Poet’s Corner. Pick a condiment from Harrods or Fortnum and Mason’s Food Halls, its affordable! Have a drink at Capeesh Sky Bar, Canary Wharf (its the Penthouse), Visit Fitzrovia Chapel, its a soothing and a silent place away from the crazy city buzz Window shop or just shop at New Bond Street if you can afford it. Its luxury… Visit Westfield Shopping Mall London Go bowling at Star Lanes Get a cocktail at the American Bar, Savoy Hotel and listen to the jazz pianists. You are very welcome!

Bargemon, Enchanted

It was a beautiful summer morning, not a single cloud in the sky as we woke up to the sound of the alarm in our hotel room on a nice Saturday in Nice (no pun intended!) Hmmn, what an absolute delight to wake up in the Provence-Alpes-Cote’ d Azur once again, specifically in this beautiful French Riviera city I love. I opened the blinds; the swimming pool was calling me. It’s was 27 degrees but of course our air conditioned room meant we slept so well, without a break of sweat. We had a late flight the night before and checked in just before midnight. We had planned to drive up early to Bargemon to meet others for brunch. After a very typical French buffet breakfast which certainly consisted of the perfectly baked croissants and fresh black coffee, we picked up our rental car, a metallic red 2019 convertible Mercedes Benz with the ‘baddest’ technology I have ever seen in a car and drove up north to Bargemon, a medieval picturesque rural village also located in the Var region of the Provence. I was enchanted. I had read about this village a little while ago when news had it that the Beckhams had bought a holiday villa there. Drive up from inland Nice was probably around an hour and 30 minutes with a number of tolls. I caught some excellent views like the views of the blue lakes in Lac de Saint Cassien. Lynn (Neil’s sister) and Dave (her husband) had booked up a (typical Brit-Francophile) family owned villa for a week, a very generous gesture for 11 of us, friends and family. The villa was a true definition of French influenced rustic charm, located up on a hill, not too far from the main village. An absolute breath-taking property nestled in the centre of mountains, olive groves, woodlands and hills. We chilled out, had a villa day, I got to meet Isabella, the Parisian married to Joe the American from California (they live in Paris), and Dave and Tina, the Northern Americans also from California.  They were beautiful people and great company. We had a light lunch or was it brunch after a 10 minute tour of the villa offered by little Anya, Neil’s’ niece and proceeded for a very relaxing villa day with the rest of the group. After dinner, we decided to have a midnight walk into the village as we could hear the sound of music from a distance and our curiosity wouldn’t let us stay. So we wandered into the main square and there were a couple of pop up bars- I think it was the penultimate day of a local music festival. There had a  Caribbean theme/ vibes going on- after swinging our waists from side to side watching the bands play and having some beers, we wandered round the little alley streets, mounted around 12th century walls and cobbled pavements. A village of fountains, I thought. Trees older than a 100 years old. In a measured peaceful silence of the night, with the residual night activities shutting down, we walk down the hill home and at that point I knew I had come to one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the world. An untouched French gem, still again, unseen. After a lovely morning swim in the warm dawn of a Monday morning followed by a typical French breakfast, we wandered round town and drove up to Fayence for a day trip, where we explored the pretty village, stopped for gelatos and ice creams, bought souvenirs, herbs, lavender and tchotchkes. Yet again, another magnificent neighboring village, discovered in my wanderlust. We had also driven round Claviers, Seillans and Callas, beautiful neighboring villages. I was just falling more and more in love with France. As if there was any more space left in my heart for loving the Provence After the group had split in their different directions to seek personal space and seek personal interests, we agreed our rendezvous would be the car park. When we had enough of the sun as the afternoon began to bake, we all drove up grocery shopping at U Wines, a huge grocery store where you can find practically anything. So we stocked up on food, fruits, vegetables and wine. Dinner was a lovely ratatouille dish with baked potatoes and a fresh provincial salad. On Tuesday, after a lovely morning swim, brunch and a well-deserved fabulous reflexology treat from Lynn, we wandered round town, this time, in the day. We visited the fine art galleries, the little arty shops, a local pottery store, museums, the tower, castle, vintage and antique collection stores, and stopped for pre –dinner drinks just as the sun was setting. There were a couple of bars in the Square (Place Philippe-Chauvier). Apparently, the square was named after a Provincial Poet. There is the Notre Dame de Montaigu which you cannot miss, its in the centre of the village and a number of small chapels around the village. At this point, I had come to appreciate how stunning this village was. The sight of Juliet Balconies, the little chic and rustic restaurants, cute little bakeries and boutiques, the village fountains and the Spring that produces refreshing cold water which we drank from, the popular local butcher, elderly men playing boules in the park, the life at the square was a treat of rurality. The next day we went horse riding and wine tasting in the vine yards of Domaine de Meauix in neighbouring villages of Bagnois-en-Foet (a little farm of Idefix) and Fayence respectively. On our way back, we drove past the weekly local flea markets. The village had more people in it than I had seen all week. We had planned to visit Aix en Provence the following day- just Neil and I as the group had individual plans, some of them drove up to the Antibes for a bit of night life and others stayed back at the villa. But we decided that as it was our penultimate day, we would rest in the villa. So we played boules, relaxed at the pool, prepared dinner, packed up and just chilled out; exactly what I needed for my soul. On Friday morning after a French style breakfast which consisted of cold cuts, charcuterie, pain avec fromage and a yummy omelette, I went up to write in my journal about how Bargemon had been kind to me and showed me a love of places which consistently reminds me of my absolute obsession for Southern France and why I am a Francophile. I came down, played a little bit with little Anya, got our luggages ready, nibbled on everything French left in the fridge and packed up into the car home bound via Nice. After we dropped the car, we headed to board. However there were severe delays with the flight which annoyed me a little bit. But I chose not to be annoyed by the hiccups of British Airways. Afrerall, I have had the most memorable time in Bargemon and neighboring Les Plus Beaux Villages de France I would ever see. Writing about it gives me the blues. Absolutely and truly in love. Merci Bargemon #provence #southoffrance #Bargemon #riviera

Milano, Quintessentially, Yours

My friend, Ijay and I spent three months trying to figure out where we were headed for a long weekend. We had never been to Milan. I had suggested Sicily but on second thought, we were only meant to be gone for a long weekend. 3 nights seemed more appropriate for Milan than Sicily. My blog about Sicily will tell you that I needed to spend longer than a long weekend there. I knew this trip was going to be a little soulless, perhaps less adventurous and matter of fact, more of an elegant indulgence with the city. But it was fine; we just wanted an excuse for a jaunt to a European capital to celebrate belated birthdays. The long weekend was anticipated to be a fusion of culture, exploring trendy fashion designs, dining for Italian food, exploring art nouveau, medieval castles, art deco and really taking in some Milanese R&R. R&R meant that we planned to have longer lie ins, order breakfast in bed, slowly wander late mornings into town, check in to these local chic urban cafes, traditional modern bistros, local boutiques, and art galleries to soak in the northern Italiano culture. Like they say in Italy, “Dolce Far Niente”, meaning; the absolute sweetness of doing nothing. Why not? Come to think of it, most of the north of Italy seems to be the more affluent parts of the country including central regions such as Tuscany, (which I toured last summer of 2018 and have great memories of). When you bring it back home to the UK, it’s the complete opposite with the South being the more affluent parts of the UK, specifically London. The world is a very interesting place. So Milan, this world’s landmark for global fashion, a fascinating wealth of art and history made us bond with the vibrant metropolitan city for three nights. As this break was booked probably about 10 weeks before we left, I had tried to book tickets well in advance to see ‘The Last Supper’ knowing fully well how difficult it could be getting tickets when we arrive. Well, it turned out to be sold out even 10 weeks in advance including the ‘Lates’, one that I was specifically interested in attending to avoid the overwhelming throngs of tourists. Oh well, we were certainly gutted but tried not to let it taint our excitement before flying. After all, I love Italy; it will be my 4th time in the country. Italy always reminds me of Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s ‘Eat Pray Love’. Each time I go, (whether it’s the Eternal City (Rome), Tuscany, San Marino, Venice, wherever)- I fall in love. Whether its with my romance with Tuscan influenced villas, fresh Italian coffee, sweet pastries, (Baroque) Piazzas, Basilicas, vine yards, art, freshly made pasta (especially a pasta alle vongole) and some fresh local red wine. My life is that simple and I find substantive comforts in these things. We touched down just after noon, and decided as check in was at 15:00hrs, we could kill a bit of time by being adventurous and using local Public Transport. So we navigated our way with google maps from the airport using a bus half way into town and getting on the metro from Forlanini to Republica station. We lodged at the Westein, 5 star rated (4 star rated by us). The hotel was beautiful, we loved the Victorian and modern interior fusion. The reception smelled of citrus and pink roses. They had brought me a chocolate and vanilla sponge coconut coated cake to celebrate my birthday which was really sweet. The city view from the room was refreshing each morning when I woke up. After a short and sweet siesta, we wander into the Duomo, about 15 minutes’ walk away from us. The weather was pleasant; it was a beautiful summer evening. Milan was beautifully bright with pink, yellow and blue trams passing through colourful streets, bright coloured fashion designs illuminating through store window panes, and museums and galleries at every nook and corner of town. So as the Piazza del Duomo connects into the galleria, after visiting the extraordinary Duomo, we walk into the absolutely stunning galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It was a remarkable experience. The galleria had this incredible octagonal shaped arcade and oozed of haute couture, luxurious fashion designer stores, chic coffeehouses and expensive jewellery stores; we wandered through them. After all, it was all for the Milanese culture. I considered it a wonderful work of art. We spontaneously enjoyed some yummy flavours of gelatos and after our wanderlust; we somehow randomly strolled into Lumas art gallery. It was inviting, I loved it there. My senses seem to awaken once I behold visual art. It’s life. I was desperate to buy some black and white vintage portrait photographs from the 1930s. But it was too expensive that as much I was keen to get one (not a set), Ijay talked me out of it and it felt (at the time) like I needed to be talked out of it. But I got back to London and wondered why I didn’t whack it on my credit card. The next day, we had planned to visit the magnificent Lake Como. We were due to leave at 10.30am from Milan to Varenna on a train and change to Como through a ferry to Bellgaio. However, we didn’t get to Varenna as the train company was on strike so we stopped in a town just after Milan and was stranded for an hour. There was no way to connect. No one would help us or other travellers. It was a bit of a disaster. So we walked in a café for a snack and drinks to work out a plan from this cock up. We were subsequently told that we could get direct buses to Lake Como from that town. We got tickets and got on the bus. It was worth the hassle when we arrived. Como was mind-blowingly picturesque, absolutely unbelievable. So we spent some time wandering round town, got on the slow ferry to Bellagio and that ride was a ride of a lifetime. I still cannot get the memories off my mind, I was surrounded by absolute beauty, It was like something from the moon or a Disney fairy-tale. The lakes nestled and surrounded by the hills, the mountains, the colours, the lushness of summer colourful flowers and trees, the towns, the belvederes, all of it were fond discoveries of a lifetime. I couldn’t be more grateful for stumbling on a video on my Facebook wall and to Sajid for encouraging me town hop. We had one of the dreamiest romantic lunches I would ever have. It was in Hotel Florence, (Restaurant de’l hotel Florence) , an exquisite al fresco style overlooking the lake and the shore lines. The restaurant had beautiful orange tress shading the tables covered in a light pink table cloths, contrasting with the colour of the lake, the skies and the trees. It was beyond beautiful. I see why it’s called the ‘Pearl of Lake Como’- because of its beauty and its position between the two branches of the lake. Lunch was fresh, a culinary decadence. We subsequently took a walk along the promenade and into the villages, taking in the views of the colourful homes and flowers. I remember walking up the hill on our way back and it was a quiet path up and Ijay and I put on Burna Boy’s ‘Ye’ on my phone as we danced and sang along walking up towards the ferry dock. A few people smiled at us and must have thought, look at these crazy bitches! I said to Ijay, this is the Nigerianness in us coming out. We took the fast ferry back to Como and the train back to Milan. When we exited the station, we stopped for local pastries and bought a whole bunch of these breads baked with black olives. I don’t know what its called but it was super-yum and we ate them on the streets as we tried to hail a cab down. The next day we wandered into the fascinating and exclusive upper class world of Quadrilatero della Moda. It reminded me of New Bond Street, London. The numbers of stores and boutiques with really luxurious and (un) affordable items was overwhelming. The fashion designer houses were so traditionally Italian, they had kept their original historic forms from the 1960s or wherever. Valentino for example had a number of floors and this was the pattern for the big luxurious designer houses. A number of black men were security guards in these stores. They would wave at Ijay and I as if to identify with people who look like them but are not necessarily in this world they have found themselves. It was sad but endearing. We would smile and wave back. After all they are holding dignifying jobs within their contexts in the most sought out fashion district in the world. It was great especially for Ijay my friend who loves her fashion. From the Hermes, to the Valentino, to Prada, Fendi, Gucci, Ferragamo - just name it! A hub of luxurious fashion, it was oh so fascinating. Admiring from a distance, was the real definition of window shopping, After 2 hours of wanderlust and flattering our lust and appetite for luxury in the ultimate fashion shopping district, we decided to stop for a treat at Armani cafe for some light lunch and coffee. It was a lovely little treat; we had some fresh salads, fresh juice, breads and coffee. It was so good; we had decided to reserve dinner for later at their fine dining restaurant upstairs After admiring fashion designs and having the ultimate window shopping, we decide to head back to the hotel for a nap. Sadly, the Westein didn’t have a proper spa like a heated room or a heated pool so we decided to nap like the Italians, seeing that we don’t have that opportunity back home. It was our penultimate day anyway. I loved the art, the food, the fashion culture, the city pace, the gelatos and sorbets at your convenience, the colourful trams, the shiny and colourful window displays, the grand palaces and the bustling city nature. But I found Milan a little soulless. It would not be my first choice. It’s the same sort of soullessness I had when I visited Dubai. But Como and Bellagio compensated for this elegant Italian affair and I cant be more grateful for the opportunity to experience such captivating beauty. Our penultimate day was super chilled out and we had the most amazing luxurious dinner at the Armani restaurant, real fine dining. This was what Milan was about. A lovely grilled sole fillet over beautiful white wine followed by a rich creamy selection of fresh baked desserts. We ate, prayed, loved, laughed and boarded a plane back. And then there was Milan Fashion Week…after we left, one on the bucket list which we will one day we will both be back for. Thank you Milano, Quintessentially, Yours, June. #milan #milano #italy #art

A Letter From My 8 Year Old

A letter from my 8 year old self

Few months ago, I met Julia Cameron. She asked me to write a letter to myself from my 8 year old and my 80 year old.

I have never had to think of doing something so simple yet so incredibly hard in my life but I did both (on ink and paper) and I posted it in the mail to myself. The one that particularly made me cry and feel so many emotions was doing one from my 80 year old self. It was a few reams of paper and I have decided to keep it personal for now. Maybe one day, I will have the courage to type it and share some excerpts of the letter.

Dear June

Look at you.

You are such a pale little pretty, skinny girl. So fragile yet so strong. So it’s important to remind yourself why you are here.

So here is the deal

There is an incredible world of opportunity for you to shine your light and make this world a better place. Yes.

You don’t have to be some big hero or superwoman. You don’t need the attention or recognition to make an impact. Be understated.

Just do your teeny tiny little bit in the world and let that be your legacy marked on this earth.

The earth is too big, the sky too wide for you to craft your own little space and find your corner.

You know your condition is part of your DNA so it’s going nowhere. Regardless of your health challenges, your genetic imperfections, you have the power to touch the sky, to find your purpose and to touch lives. Everything you dream is possible if you work hard, dream big and believe in yourself. Push those boundaries. Its so bloody cliche, I know but let’s give it a shot.

With your Illness, there will be constant pain and suffering and there will be life challenges that may or may not be health related but you have to raise your head high, fight them and walk gracefully out of them taking the learning and finding meaning in each of these events. Let that remarkable strength you have be a constant sense of solace that in the thick of it, in the bottom of a rot, in the dark pangs of depression, you will always come out the other side rising, still rising. Because hey, look at me, you don’t have a choice. It’s only one way sweetheart.

I hope you eventually get to live by the sea or the beach as you have always dreamed, writing whilst watching the sun set and rise. Maybe even practice yoga each morning, ride horses weekly, find little fun adventures to experience and travel the world with someone you so love.

Remember true love shines so brightly. There is no question about it. Love is kind. It’s simple. You will recognize it when it’s binary.

Never forget your family

They will always be there when people come and go. There are the guardians of your being on earth. Love them. Unconditionally.

I hope you find someone, a partner who will love you so affectionately, look after you, feed you on your sick bay, hold your hair back when you are sick, kiss your feet and tell you each day how beautiful you are. It’s that simple June. And if you get that, you know he is precious to you so be those things and more to him.

Nurture good friendships. The ones who genuinely care about you. It’s rare these days and allow yourself to be loved by others.

As you climb, don’t forget to lift others. There is a huge difference between sharing and giving. Recognize your role in these and the impact it has on others.

Find peace in solitude and being alone but don’t be lonely.

As much as your physical health remains a focus, don’t forget to look after your mental health June. The traumas, the pain and the suffering will have a toll on you. There will be losses, grief, heart breaks and disappointments. So you must remember to look after your mind.

Let your self development and self care be your daily motivational factors.

Lose yourself in the arts since that’s what you have chosen to immerse yourself in.

Keep creating. Don’t hold it back as you know what happens when you do.

Educate yourself daily. Never underestimate who you learn from. Whether it’s a child, a homeless man on the street, a wise old person, someone from a different culture. Use different forms to learn.

Have an open mind.

This is very important.

Always, always show gratitude for everything you accomplish because in doing so comes more blessings.

Pray for the sick and those at the end of their lives, the poor, the shell shocked, those at war, veterans, sick children, the bereaved, the helpless and help them when you have the ability to do so.

For perhaps your ‘healing’ could be buried in the (gift and) act of doing for others.

A sense of lack is created by you. It comes from within. Always recognise this feeling. You lack nothing.

You are NOT entitled to anyone’s attention, no one because with this expectation comes resentment and we aim for contentment. Be aware of it.

Always, always be kind to yourself, June. And kindness starts with the little things, from a soak in the bath, to a walk in the park, to having a lie in on the weekend and breakfast in bed. Whatever makes you happy.

Show yourself compassion and empathy. And then show these qualities to others because these are the ultimate tools that will guide you and show you the path to navigating life. It will attract goodness and positive energy.

Love is in you. You are your own love story. Make your life your fantasy.

Everything you dreamed of your little barbies as a little girl, the life of paradise? Dream it for you.

You will soar

You are beautiful, June

So overwhelmingly beautiful.

You are smart, kind, strong, compassionate and just pure.

Your heart is deep in soul

So keep that love burning

Be the vessel and let the light in.

Keep discovering yourself.

Be restless. It’s ok to constantly seek to find. Expand your mind.

Change is a good thing. Thrive on it. Be the alternative that excludes.

Discover your purpose.

Live a great life in this beautiful, yet chaotic world.

Find consciousness in every action you take.

Laugh, June, laugh.

Have so much fun like everyday was your final one. And as much as you are aware of life in its entirety, be also a little aware of your own mortality.

The world is what you want to make of it and if you are fortunate, it could be topped up with a little bit of luck.

Do all the beautiful happy

things you love doing.

Forgive yourself

Forgive others

Learn from your mistakes

Show your vulnerabilities

Wear them on your sleeves.

Because in showing vulnerability comes bravery.

And in sharing vulnerability comes a connection to the Light and the universe.

Do not be afraid.

Be generous even when you don’t receive generosity back but do it with consciousness.

Afterall you are not being kind to others for reciprocation.

If people are unkind to you, do not be unkind to them but feel free to emotionally and physically check out from that space.

Because at the end of the day, you can’t change a person’s behavior towards you but you can choose how you react to them.

Always question and explore the “whys”.

Climb baby, climb

Run, soar, fall, trip, fall, rise.

I know you can do this thing called life.

Repeat after me June.

“I can do this thing called life”.

And remember always that life remains the single most precious thing in the world.

Always remember balance and certainty are tools to keep handy at all times.

I love you so much and the one ultimate thing I wish for you June is eternal happiness. Anything else is just a cute little bonus. Right? So let’s do this deal.

Yours eternal & affectionately yours

June Okochi, Your 8 year old

est 1988 #letter #loveletter #8yearold

Loch Tay Highland Lodges; Summer in Scotland

This time last year, summer of 2018, I was glamping in Scotland and had a terrific long weekend with my Scottish family, ‘glamping’.

I was treated with love and a warm welcome to the southern edges of the Highlands of Perthshire- an area famed for its dramatic green and naturally-manicured mountains, a worthy escape to the glens and lochs, ancient castles and unspoiled nature.

With fascinating road trips exploring some distinctive cultural venues and countryside towns whilst soaking in the breathtaking coastal views of the Tay.

My lungs has taken in the freshest air it’s had in a very long time and of course I drank softer water.

It was phone, laptop, social media, work, calls, make up and everything free - just nature and me making out.

Oh and the midges were kind to me. Bites are the only thing I dread when camping. Some weren’t so lucky. I also proved to someone I wasn’t so much of a diva and I can survive anywhere 😉 Back to the rat race but not without holding on to the fond memories of this discovery and an appreciation of some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen- and of course, what’s life without those people who absolutely love and adore you 😍

A wee pit-stop at Perth for a wee lunch. 😊

Now, Edinburgh and home-bound via London City Aeroporto.




Loch Tay







Tunnels of love; the march of the avenue.



#summerglamping #travel #soctland #glamping #lochtay

A Summer Day in Little Venice, London


Jersey; The Unique Small Chanel Island, neighbours to England

A remarkable island getaway with Mica and I apparently has made a highlight of 2019.

My headspace had been a little too clouded with conflicting life priorities, endless work, and a sense of regret stemming from taking on a (what I thought was a promising) new role outside London.

So in full gear with life, it was a much needed little break. And this would have been my first break since the Caribbean in January which has seemed like a lifetime ago. It’s not tropical weather in Jersey but the climates tend to be generally milder than most of Europe whether its Winter, Spring or Summer.

The Bailiwick of Jersey; A channel island, I flirted with for 3 days.

As a super Francophile, I think I am allowed to call Jersey, a French Cornwall. Jersey, the largest channel island that borders England and France, bordering West of Normandy, operates under a different relationship to the crown dependency but is governed by the British Monarch. The island is considered an independent country in its own right. The British government provides its defense as it rightly should have been in World War II when the Germans occupied the island.

Jersey has its own £ currency but will generally trade with GBP.

Jersey is an island I have always longed to visit after my jaunt to the Isle of Man made an astonishing experience as I bagged a rich week of culture with my friend who lives there. She gave me a good time. The Manx culture is truly beautiful. But of course, not forgetting Guernsey, another channel island on my list, one I would love to experience. And I am not giving this one up specifically after I had watched the movie “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” on my flight back from Barbados in January. The film; a mixture of World War II history and a love story on the island with a powerful plot centered on a London based writer who exchanged hand written letters with residents of the islands during the German occupation and had gone on to form a book club after the Nazi soldiers had caught them breaking curfew.

Ok, that's enough...No spoilers but it’s a movie worth watching.

Jersey did it for me in a rather inexplicable, subtle and peaceful way with its unique beautiful characteristics rooted in tradition, a familiar warmth and a proper chilled out island vibe. I marveled because it peaked my expectations.

We ideally just wanted a genuine 'girly' break but we got more than that. The first treat started with the Ariel view of the island prior to touching down at Jersey airport. That feeling of excitement experiencing a new place, meeting new people, getting swallowed and soaked up in the culture is probably more ecstatic that an orgasm.

So after our taxi ride to Saint Helier, the Capital town, where our hotel, the Royal Yacht was located, (its the strip), we aimed not to lose sight of views of the coast as the sun set on St Brelades Bay, the rest of Thursday consisted of an evening of settling in after check in, having the finest sea food dinner and some nice Sauvignon blanc at the Zaphire al fresco type restaurant down at the hotel, followed by a marathon of TV, the unbeatable craziness of all series of ‘Insecure’ which we watched on Amazon Prime. We were wide eyed watching TV until it clocked past midnight. Issa Rae is my girl. I love her. Friday was a day to explore the traditional English and French heritage, Jersey's culture and the adventures the island had to give.

With views of the iconic Elizabeth Castle, to a trip to the Jersey War Tunnel which used to be the German Underground Hospital, to the Botanic Gardens at Samares Manor, to wanderlust around the French named streets of St Helier, to a visit to the pretty cathedral, St James. We spent some time at the Howard David Park and Gardens, did some shopping, stopped for coffee, and ended the night with fine dining at the Michelin starred /AA rosettes restaurant, Mark Jordan At The Beach. The stylish restaurant literally on the promenade between St Hilier and St Aubin was a highlight. We met Mark Jordan, lead chef and owner. He is a fine man, who cooks fine food in a fine location. It was an absolute honour. After a delightful dinner consisting of a warm fluffy foccacia served with Jersey butter, followed by Jersey seared scallops, Jersey brill, accompanied by a light fragranced cold glass of Muscadet wine, we say goodbye to the lovely staff, hurry into our taxi (while it poured rain, and the winds tugged hard, swaying things and people from side to side) and head back to the hotel. Saturday consisted of a spa day which was arranged with Club Jersey Hotel and Spa, a few yards from the Royal Yacht. After a lovely all body spa treatment, we settle for a light delicious lunch at the Michelin starred Bohemia restaurant. Oh buoy. we had a good treat of all spa facilities ranging from the hydrobench to the salt steamer, a nice warm pool experience and a sauna. Returning to our hotel, we plan for a short nap and a water hydrating session. Later that evening, we head down to one of the hotel restaurants, Sirocco. I had a light yummy prawn salad and some rose, Mica a chicken Caesar salad accompanied with a nice glass of beaujolais. The restaurant was located in the 'Cabin', the most historic preserved part of the hotel. We sat on high bar stools for dinner which was a first.The room still had a lot of its original form intact. Mica looking fine, all dressed up and made up in tight fitting sexy clothes and 6 inches heels, dancing on the corridors after she had gulped her glass of beaujolais in a hurry was now putting up a show that not only amused me, but also amused her. The rest was history as we walked the lift to our room.

Feeling relaxed and new like a baby, we slept well and woke up to the sad reality that it was Sunday, and we will be flying back home, we have breakfast, check out and head to the La Mere Wine Estate and Vineyards, one of Jersey’s unique spaces. Greeted with a shot of the yard’s locally made apple cider and a guided tour of the vineyard including the apple brandy and wine distilleries, we head to the tasting room where we watched a short movie while indulging in small tasting quantities of excellently made wine.

From the Saninte Marie white wine to the light pink Perquage rose to the Red Bailiwick 2011 and a small treat complimentary of the vineyard, a shot of Jersey double cream liqueur served in a chocolate cup, we were now feeling a little elated. Yum! With an overload of my sensory experiences from Jersey brings a sense of actual finality to the trip, as we jump into our taxi to the airport, home bound with a sense of contentment that this break was a well deserved one. We felt refreshed and ready to take on the world and all the multiple projects we continue to work on as young black women with purpose.

Like they say, no rest for the wicked, right?

Next trip to Jersey will be with my buh 😍 because I am definitely going back sooner rather than later.

Certainly taking him to this English island where there exist good weather and beaches, great seafood, a buzzing night life, a vineyard, Jersey Pearls, classic herd farms, magical castles, war history and lots of art and culture. It’s our perfect mix of a getaway. We will aim to stay at the St hotel l’horizon st brelades. The locals rate it.

Jersey; your English Channel island getaway. 40 minutes away from London. You should go! #channelisland #jersey #Beach #jerseybutter #lamarewineestate #Germanoccupation #jerseywartunnels #jerseyspa

Where the Wildings @?

“May I please I get a return to the end of the high street ”
The line which had become my lucid chorus to the bus drivers each morning. An eventual broken record. In London, my ‘Oyster’ tells the driver all and nothing.

Through Kendal Avenue and beyond

I am circled by rurality and farmlands

Taylor’s ‘Sad Beautiful Tragic’ in tune

Perfectly paired to complement this actuality . Fogged by faces of white middle class English folk Larded by luxury cottage homes, secure within private roads and gated communities. Perfectly quaint front lawns

Colourful garden porches stretching an average of 30 metres beyond front doors

Filled with curious spells My obsession for mewses rather loud

As my addiction to daffodils in spring bloom. “Could you make it extra hot, please?”

I besiege for a flat white or skinny latte Its the umpteenth time I am handed a cup full of lukewarmth

The luxury idea of Eurocentric regular chic cafés

Of coffee and cake breaks reading a Vogue or Tatler magazine. Of after-work drinks in a series of city bars flirting with male colleagues

Is an overwhelmingly lure of faded pictures. My infinite frustration wrapped in a town which produces local sausages by the Church’s Butchers

Seemingly now has nothing more enticing than a bowl of boring cream of mushroom soup and a dense roll with hard butter An absolute tornado of culinary disaster lacking colour or sensation. Struck by a mundane realization

Reminded of a single flimsy routine which once excited me. The Office’s Friday Cake Club

One of too many I caved in
I now eat more Welsh cakes

Manage a decreasing average weekly steps of 4k. And store up more torn bus tickets
Devoid of choice to avoid a drive past the Monday flea market

Of fresh bread loaves, bright coloured scarves, tired traders, fresh flowers and neglected efforts

Middle class Baby Boomers offer awkward stares to the negro girl.

Who clearly stands out like a sore thumb

Like the one I got when I visited Kilmarnock with my ex

Or was it parts of Eastern Europe

Yet 15 miles away lies London suburbs, West of town I want to stare at you

Whist you lead your horses back to the stables

Maybe I could ride them perfectly to the fields

Get lost in rhythm as I bounce my perky butt on the saddles

My equestrian thoughts drift back to rhetoric wild lines A compulsion to stand at the exit of the station each morning waiting for the 420 or ‪420A‬ that never comes

The crossing of deers more frequent than the arrival of buses. I watch lovers, parents and children paste kisses on each other’s lips and cheeks Followed by impulsive goodbyes as they drop off Signaling that there is generally still love in the world.

A code predominantly visible in stations and airports. Young blondes, tanned orange as Mr America

Plastered and baked in layers of make up

An anxiety jets inside me

The slightest smile could leave a crack on their faces

They walk past in clumsy heels and cute Essex accents

Flattered by ‘Jolie’ blown up lips

An ode to “Botox gone wrong”
Men in super tight skinny jeans. The era of fashion headlined to stop circulation in their penises

Enamored with perfectly groomed lives

Gelled down hair

And heavy cologne leaving a residual linger in the air like London’s air pollution. The still and quiet at the top of Palmers and Stonards hill even on a typical Monday morning scares the fuck out of me
I wonder if my proximity away from London is a metaphor for my mental retirement The lifelessness of the ‘deux’ I challenge my exchange for city pace, the rat race

Pedestrian traffic, regular brisk walks, busy bicycle lanes, perfectly made coffees, crusty hot croissants, impatient city folks navigating through rush hour, lost in the myth of tube delays, the cliche of A12 and M25 traffic and a world wrapped around my creativity.

To what had become my new normal of a slow dying life

A heave of foothills

Mirrored by unremarkable calm

Wet and muddy earth Of Red Road Warning Signs that read “Beware of Cattle”

And others written with chalk on boards “Local Farm Fresh Eggs for sale”

Landed with momentarily morning dog walks And a patting ritual of a cute fluffy mutt

Her owner welcoming my encounters for 30 seconds

As I and the mutt are mutually comforted

My structured motivation retires lifeless like the rest of this place. I am surrounded by dews of loneliness, bare fields, lavender, empty spaces and 1950s bungalows Some filled with boxes of unthinkable history

Furniture preserved or hoarded in derelicts

Lost boxes of quirks

Old rusty vintage candle arbours, broken cheese boards, tangled Christmas tinsels, tucked amongst dead paraphernalia and decades of dust. Regressive feasts undertaken by human encounter 
Underwhelmed by windows gleaming not of scrawny city foxes on tube station fences. But of an array of endless trees, the occasional sight of pheasants, sea gulls, squirrels, magpies, rabbits and more black birds The daily east bound journey on the central line, stretching acres, fields of green off the beaten paths

Landscapes focal. I am the girl with a seat on the train

Delving from outskirts of the city to views fading into the countryside A clear facade of what I see London, my city to be

Undesired losses

Channels of Jemais vu

Triangulated to a less familiar place Relentless hunger of regrets

Frank nostalgia

Geographical and culture shocks

Unappealing peers For growth, was to delve out to go up
. I walk from Maltings Lane into process and bright horizons
Matted maroon red and vintage green classic Jaguars

‘D’ ‘E’ ‘F’ and classic S types all parked impeccably in the lot

In line Under wild berry trees and between wide woods. In picturing a soulless state

Was a euphemism

I moved from diversity, a concept of my magic to diverse

A world clearly made for some

A definite misfit of culture, one devoid of diversity, but clearly and tightly diversely perfect. “Thanks, have a lovely day”, my lucid chorus to the bus drivers, as I approach the front doors of the bus
“You too”, they retort with a nearly forced grin

Aligned with uncharismatic patterns, 
I step out with careful tease not to end up with murky boots

Look left, right

Make a crossing

Into chaotic structures

By all means

Retain your “rural charm” Unapologetically, I will engrave my soul in city lights, grit, graffiti and grime West end plays, high street stores, night life Art fairs, gastro pubs, 24 hour tube lines, slutty and gay bars, chic cafes, African restaurants, indie galleries, penthouse sky bars, picnic in parks, alfresco lunches, cabaret shows, hip hop concerts, 24hr breakfasts bars, city farms, tapas joints, museums, jazz clubs, luxury hotels, heels on London pavements, cream tea parties, readings at poetry cafes, diverse tribes and faces, encountered races, city airports, French restaurants, Dress ups, make up

Run for buses that actually show up

Drink perfectly made flat whites Because the bloody buzz

Because, fuck rural

Because Of what use is a life of horizontal value

Lacking in essence of time

Of empty spaces

Of necrotic motions

Of diverse vibes

Of all that sustains my creative mind

For breeding contempt

Is a reality of disabling legos building up A far fetched tunnel vision of herewith

I, a product borne of cities shall dwell in the houses of Cities forevermore.

And like Meesh would say
“It’s not the suburbs”
“It’s the urbs”

It’s essentially fur coats with no knickers

Friends ask, where is it you work again?

West Essex

Response, “where is that”?...

Oh Hail my tragic tale of a move from cosmopolitan chapters and a city that never sleeps to a linear necrotic village

08228, The Village Forest, 36, A Circus of Uncertainty #citylife #rural #cosmopolitan #surburb #london #lifeinthecity

Enda Walsh’s ‘Rooms’ At the Barbican

I booked to go to this one alone and have just spent 2 hrs after work at the Barbican. It’s been fascinating to experience for the very first time, a poetic series of 5 rooms delivered in the context of theatre.

The 5 rooms consisted of a kitchen, a hotel room, an office room, 33a, a girl’s room and a bathroom. In all 5, were accounts of poetic (and prosaic) series of the 5 characters.

Our theatre host would confine the 6 of us in each room as we listened to voices of solitude, loneliness, accounts of day to day stories, and proses of life. The production was basically an immersive theatre installation of sound, light and darkness.

This creative was developed by Enda Walsh and narrated by some of Ireland’s most distinct voices – Niall Buggy, Charlie Murphy, Donal O’Kelly, Paul Reid and Eileen Walsh.

According to the Barbican, this is the first time that Enda Walsh’s five short stories to date are presented together as one performance. Unrelated, yet all springing from the loneliness experienced by ordinary people, they take on a quiet poetic force through remarkable storytelling, punctuated by stark lighting and sound. Contemplative, atmospheric and sure to stay with you long after you’ve emerged. As National Poetry Month is celebrated in April, seems very timely to treat one’s self to some good old art and poetry.



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copyright © 2020 june okochi