Tuesday, 26 January 2016

From London With Love

London can be hard to love. It's grey and it's expensive and even in the middle of seven million people it can be lonely. 2016 will mark nine years - almost a decade - of living in the capital. The early days of my London romance would be distant memories if Facebook didn't insist on showing me them on an almost daily basis - eliciting the same reaction as when it tells me to say happy birthday to the guy I went on one date with who then both lost his phone and suffered short-term amnesia the day after....

I can no longer pop into Selfridges at 3pm or walk home across Waterloo Bridge at 3am. I know how to pronounce Southwark and six years after jumping into a Regent's Park fountain I'm still relatively healthy. The sparkly novelty of living here has grown into a daily reality of the 9-5 (heh), continued annoyance at the lack of a decent sized supermarket anywhere in Zone 1 and the way my finger too often hovers over my Uber app when, yeah, I probably could make the last tube but I don't really want to. Like a long term relationship, the newness has given way to staying in eating happy-hour Itsu and half-guiltily cancelling date night in favour of Netflix...  I'm obviously not talking about human relationships here (see above paragraph), I just meant that I didn't go to Lumiere because, well, it's a bit cold and I need to talk about Making A Murderer with people I've never met on Twitter...

I've stopped noticing the little things, the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make London...well, London. I've somewhat guiltily let my mind wander on dull afternoons and started thinking about other cities, other places, places that are not London. I've wondered if I'd like to try out another life, another place - my ears pricking up when a friend mentions a friend of a friend who's jacked in the grey for distant shores or when friends share stories of their times in other cities and when Instagram shows me the view from their 50th floor apartment. I start to think about how many boxes I'd need to fit my possessions into...4, 40, 400? And how quickly could I pack up and jet off? And then I stop. Because I don't think I could actually ever leave this city. The one where I've felt more at home than anywhere else. The one that I've run 26 miles through its streets cheered on by people who screamed out my name even though they didn't know me. The one where for a few weeks in 2012 we all became our sparkly best selves and realised how good that felt. The one that will always, somehow, convince me to stay because of all the memories that we've shared and all the ones we are yet to make...

Some snippets of recent wanderings and things that have given me joy:

Spotted in Covent Garden and my John-Lewis-Christmas-advert-hating cold self just melted a little bit.
We do doors well in London. Spotted in Shoreditch.
Hidden side streets which are made for Instagram - Pollock's Toy Museum in Fitzrovia. The streets behind Oxford Circus are remarkably quiet and full of history and fun facts. Many were picked up on the matcha green tea walking tour as we burnt off the calories contained in the matcha treats and exercised our brains, too. 
The Fitzrovia Mural - showing that London life has had the same joys and troubles since 1980. 
Look up when you're passing the Tiger Store at 393 Oxford Street - the Victorian building is topped with a beaver and suddenly the street that I hurry down, avoiding eye contact and inwardly cringing as to why I'm there on a weekend becomes as magical as it did when I was five and on my way to visit my grandfather at Selfridges. 
A happy-looking blue house in Hackney. Slowly working on the parents not having mini heart-attacks every time I mention going to Hackney, Haggerston, Dalston, Brixton etc etc etc because times are changing but the diversity of this city is what makes it so special. 
While most of central becomes a repeating parade of Starbucks - Itsu - Pret - Eat, Neal's Yard retains its hippie roots and is a cheery sight even on a dreary day. 
The Geffrye Museum in Hoxton is a charming way to spend a spare hour. Free entry and an insight into how the middle classes have lived their lives since the 1700s.  
This 1960s flat looks not dissimilar to mine (if I tidied for days and culled a lot of my possessions). Us Londoners at least know how to make an overpriced shoebox stylish...shout out to my old flat where the kitchen was in a cupboard.

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5 comments

  1. Making A Murderer - so good! I've been binge watching it this last fortnight.
    I could never live in London, as it is way too busy for me and the country-lifestyle I was brought up with. Visiting the city has slowly begun to grow on me though and I see what the appeal of it is to so many others.

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  2. I have to agree with Mary and say the appeal of living in London is lost on me. Visit yes, but live? Noo. I much prefer the relatively quiet and more open life of the surbs and nearby countrysides. Although I'm always jealous of the many cafes and restaurants you get to go to... ;-)

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  3. I have to say, I'm at the point where I'm seriously contemplating moving out of London. I love it, don't get me wrong. But god, I just want to be able to live somewhere that has more than one floor and a kitchen that isn't next to my sofa!
    Cx
    charliedistracted.com

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  4. I've been here 3 years and it's definitely getting like that for me. I want space and things that aren't super expensive. But then I love London!!

    Jasmin Charlotte

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