I take any opportunity I can to go to London. It is one of my favourite cities in the world (along with this bunch) and as I live only a stone’s throw away in London’s commuter-friendly belt, I relish any chance I can to explore its streets. So when I was invited to a birthday brunch in Eltham, I knew I could slip in a little visit to the city.
I was offered a tantalising glance at the city on my way to Eltham; a typical London suburb in the South-East sitting peacefully in the shadow of Canary Wharf. Jumping on the train from Charring Cross I watched as the city sprung into life and then crumbled and melted away into suburbia. My appetite for adventure began to stir.
After a long and pleasant brunch I was back on the train, in time to watch the commuters board theirs headed for the opposite direction. As the city slowly flickered back to life I pressed my face to the window, watching as the sites flicked past.
In the balmy summer’s evening, Londoners sat sipping pints at al fresco pop-up bars, sitting under strings of fairy lights which were yet to turn on. Children played in the parks and buskers warbled on the streets. As the train squealed into Charring Cross, I was desperate to immerse myself in the crowds.
One of my favourite things about London is the way it greets you, shining and proud, from the dark belly of the underground. Bursting from deep beneath the ground you emerge squinting in the light. Surfacing at Charing Cross, your confused eyes are greeted by the mammoth National Gallery Museum which sprawls across impressive Trafalgar Square.
At this time of year London is heaving, and I mean HEAVING, with tourists. Before you can even catch your breath you are swept along with the thousands of tourists headed for Trafalgar Square. I was unprepared by the forcefulness of this excited and determined crowd and looked for a way to escape. Now, I know your Mum probably warns you about wandering down dark alleyways but I felt I had to lose the crowds somehow, so I ducked and dived down the nearest side road I could find.
I tried once more to leave the pull of these overcrowded streets and found myself in Soho Square. Soho Square is one of London’s many green spaces, every now and again you will stumble across these little oases and they often come as a welcome surprise.
As the weather was so fine, this particular green pocket was crammed with picnickers and fitness addicts. Unperturbed I wandered around its gated edge and stumbled upon one of the only deserted places in the whole of London Town. A little Catholic Church.
The Church doors were flung open, beckoning in visitors and worshippers alike. Its welcome was overlooked by the distracted and flustered tourists so I spied an opportunity to have a look around.
The church was so peaceful and unexpectedly beautiful that the return of sound when I left its silent nave, shocked me. I began to slowly head back towards Charing Cross, it was now getting late and the crowds gathering outside the local watering holes were alive with alcohol induced conversation.
I found myself wandering through the streets of the Seven Dials. Spiralling from its central point, the limbs of the Seven Dials are home to quirky pop-up shops, organic restaurants and hidden courtyards. Although it is an inevitably popular area, it never feels overly touristy, which is refreshing in this part of London!
When my feet began to throb I dropped into one of my favourite Mexican chains, Tortilla. Mexican is my cuisine of choice and these foil wrapped burrito beauties are to die for.
With my last guacamole filled mouthful, my time in London was over. Hopping back on the tube, I began to check my diary to pencil in my next London date. Although infamously expensive, the greatest joy you can get from London is purely from walking around. Following in the footsteps of hundreds of years of curious flanneurs, London will long have an inescapable hold over me. And I am fine with that!