Street life

Irish Friend One texted me on Saturday morning. Hey miss, want to go for lunch?

I met him for salad and a glass of wine at one. At 5.30 the next morning, I got home.

Some of the best nights out are unplanned, I suppose! We went to BonBon, the Italian restaurant downtown where Steve and Clare took me after my first week here.

With the chilled-out, mellow background music, and the front of the restaurant opened up to let in the sunshine and the warm summer air, it was easy to lose track of time. One glass of wine turned into 5, a quick catch-up turned into a sharing of life stories, and we eventually had to leave the restaurant because we realised we were hungry for dinner and thought that it would probably be quite embarrassing to ask to see the menu again when we hadn’t even paid for lunch yet.

Dinner was Korean barbecue (samgyeopsal) at a lovely modern cook-your-own place, followed by drinks on the terrace outside the nearest convenience store. This is a part of Korean culture that I’ve only recently discovered, now that the nice weather has arrived. Most convenience stores have tables and chairs outside them, from a cheap plastic patio table and two chairs, to a full-scale picnic area on a raised wooden terrace, complete with proper wooden tables, benches, and parasols.

You can buy some beer, wine, or soju in the shop, along with whatever snacks you fancy, and then just sit outside relaxing with them and enjoying the sun or watching the nightlife get started. I can’t imagine that happening at home. For one thing, you’re only allowed to drink on licensed premises, but for another, the pubs would never let it happen – giving people the choice to spend 50p on a bottle of soju, or a pound on a big bottle of beer, when they should be in the pubs paying several times that!

It feels very casual and summery, and we didn’t want the evening to end, which I suppose is how we ended up ringing all our other friends and then dancing the night away with them.

Welcome, summer, with your lazy long lunches and your warm, balmy nights! (Please don’t get too warm too soon…)

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