Rediscovering London

After a long absence I have been in London for the past few days visiting my girlfriend. When I think of London I am filled with a sense of dread and normally picture an endless expanse of people, cars, housing and everything in between. Whilst this is not far off the reality this visit has reminded me of some of the amazing things London has to offer.

Returning to central London, the big smoke.
Returning to central London, the big smoke.

To start with there’s a surprising amount of greenery and open spaces in the capital. I forgot about the amazing variety of ‘natural’ spaces to be found. I visited Holland Park on a sunny Sunday with its football pitch, play parks, huge number of garden areas (including a Japanese ‘Kyoto’ garden complete with Peacocks and Koi pond) and leafy walkways. But this is only one of hundreds if not thousands of such locations in London, check out this Timeout list of “London’s best parks” to see what I mean.

One of the art galleries in Somerset house. Free, of course.
One of the art galleries in Somerset house. Free, of course.

The number of events and exhibitions is also a massive bonus. I visited a number of art galleries including those in Somerset House – it was great not only seeing what was on offer but also looking whats on offer for the rest of this year (including an open air iceskating rink). Nowhere else in the UK (except maybe Edinburgh during the annual fringe) can provide such a vast calendar of unique attractions.

No visit to London would be complete without sampling some of its bountiful larder. Eating in was easier and cheaper than I first expected – next to almost every tube station I visited was at least one food store, with many boasting large supermarkets (for example Gloucester Road). And eating out wasn’t as punishing on the wallet as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, it was expensive, but eating out is quite expensive wherever you go. The bonus in London is the spectrum of different types of food on offer, all at a variety of prices.

Poppies at the Tower of London: a sea of blood red. Each poppy representing a dead soldier.
Poppies at the Tower of London: a sea of blood red. Each poppy representing a dead soldier.

One afternoon, whilst walking West along the thames from the Tower of London to Somerset House, I was reminded of London’s beauty. From the poignant poppies that flood the moat at the Tower, the dramatic tower bridge, the offices that line the river to a skyline now dominated with the shard – it’s impossible to deny the aesthetic drama London offers.

The Tower of London looking as splendid as ever.
The Tower of London looking as splendid as ever.

Sure there are obviously negatives (the rush hour tube to name one), but from being completely against the idea of ever living in a mega city like London, I am now warming to the idea. Well maybe not quite warming but certainly thawing. So in 2 years time when I’m looking for my next adventure, you never know, I might too join the rat race.

"Take my lightning but don't steal my thunder" - Alex Chinneck. Covent Garden.
“Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder” – Alex Chinneck. Covent Garden.
Covent Garden looking festive in October.
Covent Garden looking festive in October.
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