• I heart London

    Valeria Kechichian, Longboard Girls Crew, London, Crystal Palace

    Last month I spent a whole week in one of my favorite cities in the world. Despite the hostile, unpredictable weather London has an up-growing skating scene, tons of tunnels, brick buildings and special corners where -I want to believe- magic can happen anytime. Last but not least, London have some addictive buttery pastry that makes my heart go boom.

    I was staying with Vicky, one of my best Spanish friends that is now living in London with her husband Edu. Our good friend Elena was also coming from Spain and we had big plans for the weekend. The thing is, when you have something as big as longboarding in your life, something that takes over almost everything else, your friends that are not involved in such matters sometimes have a hard time to understand why you’re so into it or why you spend so much time with things longboard-related. I guess it’s hard to explain unless you have a similar passion for something that can go from any sport to singing or knitting. But when it comes to friendships its always harder to explain. I haven’t spent much time with Vicky, Elena or Edu in the last years due to all the longboard craziness, so I was really looking forward to this weekend together.

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    Elena, Vicky & I

    One of the first things we did was head to Southbank skatepark. For those of you who don’t know, Southbank is a treasured space, known as the birthplace of British skateboarding and has been home to skateboarders, BMX riders and graffiti artists for the last 40 years. This makes the Southbank undercroft the oldest recognized and still existing skateboarding space in the world.

    Southbank, Valeria Kechichian, London, skate

    I’m in Southbank. This place is history. Pic by Edu Gómez

    In early March 2013 the Southbank Centre revealed their plan to transform the iconic Southbank undercroft skatepark into retail units. The Southbank Centre proposes to relocate the revered and popular skate park further down the river, beneath the Hungerford Bridge and build a new skate facility there. The proposed redevelopment site will have no history and lacks the unique, dynamic architecture that has made the Southbank undercroft a globally renowned street culture space.

    Go to www.longlivesouthbank.com to find out more and see how you can help. The city needs its culture, not another Starbucks.

    On Wednesday I had a live interview via Skype with Italian music channel Occupy Deejay. Longboard Girls Crew Italian ambassador Francesca Trallallero was in set and I was at Vicky’s living room going live with my MacBook camera, sitting on the couch I slept in and trying to look cool… Of course it didn’t work.

    Valeria Kechichian, Occupy Deejay, Longboard Girls Crew

    Italian TV live from London. Ouch.

    Thursday was the day for Crystal Palace, a park in South-East London with lovely views, flat roads and some slopes. It’s funny how English people use the term “it’s on the same area” even though you’re a freaking hour away from the spot. So yeah, London is big. Weather-wise, you never know what to expect. At one minute it may be raining, ten later the sun is shining and four minutes after that you’re in the middle of a grey thunderstorm that makes Mordor look like Disneyland. Versatility is a must for English riders apparently.

    London, Longboard, Crystal Palace

    From right: Markus, Romy, Ben, Fury, Ras & me in Crystal Palace. Lovely day!

    I was happy to meet again with Ras Sarunas Rasalas, a crazy Lithuanian living in London that showed up some weeks ago in the II La Muela Freeride in Zaragoza, Spain, with a recently dislocated arm caused by skating and tons of energy. In Zaragoza he couldn’t skate (that’s what doctors said, not what Ras did) so he decided that the best thing to do was buying shots for us all, so he made a pretty good first impression. Besides him, I met Markus, Romy, Ben & Fury for an awesome English session. I had such a great time! I love the connection we all make when we meet and skate together. Crystal Palace is a beautiful spot and the sun shined most of the time. The only thing I missed was meeting up with my favorite UK puto, All Around Skate magician and London Longboards enthusiast Gbemi Ogunkeye. Next time buddy!

    London Longboard, Longboard Girls Crew, Crystal Palace, Valeria Kechichian

    Skating with Romy! Pic by Ras

    After skating we all went to pick up Alex -Newtons Shred owner- and headed to the store. Vicky & Edu were waiting for me in Borough Market to have some pints so after a while I headed north to meet with them. On the train back an Italian guy asked me if I was gay as I’m single and a skateboarder and he wanted to know before hitting on me in order to save time. Really, dude?

    Saturday was another big day skating, shooting all day with Will Bloomfield from Thane Magazine in Richmond Park and we had a blast! It was just the two of us, he was shooting and I was trying not to fall too hard on my arse, as usual. He brought some cool suction pads to stick the camera to the back of the car and that was ace. Richmond Park has more than 600 free deer, so we also made some friends in the way. Will is a very talented video maker and a strong activist regarding sexism in our sport, so we had quality conversation hours. That night we all met for pints and karaoke (Vicky, Vahndi & I can’t help it) and closed the night religiously at the Lebanese Grill that’s in Vicky & Edu’s block. We may have developed an addiction to that place, a shared one between London citizens apparently as the place was always packed, particularly at 3am.

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    Sunday was Bricklane day. It has changed a bit since the last time I was there but it’s still a cool place to be, especially if you’re foreign. It’s packed with markets and cool vintage shops and you can find almost anything. The food market is amazing and don’t let me get started with the pastry, cause it’s actually still part of my hips. There’s live music everywhere, even random drummers inside vans and for some reason everyone looks like a rock star. I bought the coolest, most useless vintage tea-warmer + radio. It’s so heavy I couldn’t bring it (that’s how smart I am) but Vicky will do when she comes to Madrid next time, or that’s what I’m hoping for.

    Bricklane, pastry

    Bricklane, drummer

     
    So yes, London were great, great times. Almost half of my friends live there, so seeing them all makes me super happy. I loved skating in London too and meeting so many rad people. To my friends Vicky, Edu, Ben, Vahndi, Thom, Philly, Steph, Gemma, Errol and anyone who lives far away from their family & friends: I guess we don’t have to forget we’re always a plain ride away… ♥

    Thomas Wilczek, Valeria Kechichian, London, Big Ben

    London, friends

     

    Thanks to everyone who made this trip amazing, old & new friends.. you rock. I’ll be back soon!

    Valeria KechichianValeria Kechichian


     

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Discussion 2 Responses

  1. 18/07/2013 at 8:11 pm

    Yeah!!!!! Amazing week, you know we are looking forward to have you again in London….. Miss U (tol rato)

    V.

    • 19/07/2013 at 3:17 pm

      Tol rato, perris ♥

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