I like to think of myself as having a realistic love-affair with this city. It’s as though I’ve lost the rose-tinted glasses, but I still absolutely love living here. Except for the days when I don’t. I wrote about that in my first ‘Welcome to London’ post.
Luckily those days are few and far between. Generally I’m positively ‘sober in love’ (because I don’t drink much, and also because I feel being sober and still in love probably means more than being drunk in love, there’s the little old woman version of me coming out) with this place.
Here’s a few reasons why you can’t help but lose your heart to London –
1. London in the summer is glorious
Often on a summer evening I find myself marvelling at the glory of London in that unadulterated light. Those long evenings, toasted with sparkling jugs of Pimms – it feels as though the whole city celebrates the season and I want in.
2. London is coffee shop city
I’m no lover of coffee. But I am a lover of coffee shops. And bakeries, tea rooms, cafés… the list goes on. Happily, London is bursting at the seams with all of the above (and no I don’t mean the Prets, Costas and Neros). Among my favourites are Hallys (try the french fries with truffle oil), Gail’s Bakery, The Pavilion, Timberyard, Bea’s of Bloomsbury (yum – red velvet cupcakes) and Loafing (their fruit and muesli breakfast is perfection). These guys are great for a little afternoon cuppa or a Saturday morning brunch.
3. All the world’s a gallery
And by that I mean the street art in London is amazing. I could argue that Shoreditch has the best concentration of art in the capital, but I live just down the road which makes me biased. I’ll let you decide for yourself. Get out on the streets and fill your eyes with these modern-day master pieces.
4. All the world’s a stage
The theatre in London is spectacular, but sadly quite expensive. There are ways around that though – matinees, lastminute.com, gift certificates, not to mention a proliferation of free theatre in the summer. Seek and you will find.
5. All the world’s in London
When I’m not overwhelmed by the sheer hordes of people that inhabit this city, I am in awe. My friendship group boasts people from Latvia, Denmark, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland. Where else in the world would you have such a wide range of nationalities living in one place?
6. The markets
Columbia Road Flower Market remains one of my all time favourite weekend activities. Sadly, G doesn’t quite hold the same kind of affection for it. If flowers aren’t your thang, never fear! There are many other markets to peruse, and they’re not all on weekends. Pick up delectable treats at the ever-popular Borough Market, or treasure hunt amongst the troves on Portobello Road. Brick Lane Market and Spitalfields also hold the mantel for well-known spots but neither are favourites of mine. Some of the less famous haunts are just as charming, try Exmouth Market or Broadway Market on weekends, Petticoat Lane or Roman Road for cheap clothing finds or Whitecross Street Market for a delish mid-week lunch.
7. The parks
London is roughly 47% green space, meaning it has the most park land of any of the world’s major cities. I had never experienced park culture until I got here. But on a summer’s day, with picnic basket in hand, there is something quite festive about being out in the beautiful gardens of our city. Added bonus- no lawn mowing for you!
8. The celebrations
Londoner’s – although generally regarded as a rather grumpy lot – love a good celebration. Christmas, Pancake Day, Chinese New Year, the Queen’s birthday (both of them), Harry Potter’s 15th anniversary, fashion week, Wimbledon, Ascot, boat races, Chelsea Flower Show, spring and summer… you name it, Londoner’s somewhere will be celebrating it.
Christmas had to get it’s own point because it is just so sparklingly wonderful. Streets bedecked in millions of twinkling lights, frosty ice rinks laid out beneath spectacularly dressed trees, free mince pies at Tiffany’s and of course the Selfridges Christmas windows and Harrods’ Christmas village – swoon. Of course we need to be a little realistic here and mention the crowds of MILLIONS of people you’ll have to hustle through to catch a glimpse of the decorations. My best tip? Head out to see the lights and windows once the shops have actually closed. The streets will be empty and the magical window displays will be yours to revel in.
10. The food
Travel the world without ever catching a plane. Just about every cuisine you could imagine is represented in some corner of this city. DISCLAIMER: I do not count Perfect Fried Chicken as a cuisine of any country and there are very few excuses worthy of visiting these particular establishments.
11. The ‘happenings’.
London is pop-up central. Yes they’re expensive. Yes they’re overcrowded. Yes they’re probably not your best life choice. But they can also be a lot of fun. Plus, pop-ups aren’t the only things going on! Museum lates, rowing lakes on Selfridges’ roof terrace, an entirely edible hotel, the largest annual pillow fight the world over – it’s all happening here.