Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Why I love London

As a born and bred Londoner I am fantastically defensive of the city. I love both it's intimacy and it's ability to provide you with complete anaonymity depending on how the mood takes you.

When I was a kid my mother used to tell me, that when you're walking around London always look up, all the good stuff is on the roofs. It's absolutely true and next time you're in the centre of town do it, it'll pay dividends I guarantee you. The other thing is, if you can avoid it never get on a tube, there is no point you will have a far better time walking.

The following are just a few of the reasons why I love London.

1. Walking across Waterloo bidge at dawn in the summer and stopping to look both ways
2. Sitting on the benches in the rookery on Streatham Common on a cold winter's day
3. Taking a stroll across the millennium bridge from Bankside Power Station to St Pauls
4. Standing on Parliament Hill and looking across the city on a clear sunny day.
5. Visiting the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park in high summer
6. Walking across Wandsworth Common to work on a clear spring morning and watching the swans with their new born cygnets.
7. Tumbling straight out of Fabric at 7am and going on to Trade at Turnmills until 2pm - the best clubbing double header on earth
8. Staying at the St Martin's Lane for the hell of it, despite the fact you're 4 miles from home
9. The film and supper club at the Charlotte Street Hotel, preferably to watch 'It's a Wonderful Life'
10. Eating at Chez Bruce the finest most unpretentious restaurant in christendom
11. Singalong Sound of Music at the Prince Charles in Leicester Square, the campest night out ever.
12. Walking the South Bank from Vauxhall to Greenwich
13. Cycling in Ham and pretending you're in the country
14. Star spotting at J.Sheekey - forget the Ivy this is where you're more likely to spot someone famous.
15. Bloody marys and shepherd's pie at the Grenadier just off Sloane Street
16. Walking through Belgravia and realising what a stunningly prosperous country we live in.
17. The Dublin castle, The Brixton Academy, The Balham Kitchen and Bar, Lupo, The Duke of Devonshire, The Bedford to name oh so few
19. Skateboarders at the NFT
20. Rollerbladers in Hyde Park
21. Dulwich gallery
22. The Polka Theatre
23. Walking up Whitehall with Nelson in your sights
24. Being astounded by the Palace of Westminster every time you see it.
25. The guilded grasshopper on top of the Royal Exchange
26. Fresh chorizo sandwiches from Borough Market
27. Buying a ridiculously expensive tailored suit in Jermyn Street
28. Looking down on the Gerkin from Tower 42
29. Sinking Stellas sitting on Clapham Common in high summer watching a movie on the big screen
30. High summer at Brockwell lido
31. Boat parties in Little Venice
32. Being able to get away to the country when you need to

Of course there are thousands more, but hey I like to keep some things a secret.


flyingfinn said...

I always thought London's best point is that there is always something to do. The worst is that half south of the river.;-)

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

I agree Finn, there is always something to do. London is a wonderful city and greatly underestimated by many people both who live there and those that don't and have never been there because they believe all that rubbish about London being dirty and smelly.

I disagree Six with the best time to visit the Isabella. Now is good for seeing all the wonderful heathers and bulbs and about two months down the line when all the azalias and rhodedendrans (sp?) are in bloom. Many happy hours have spent in there.

I also love that bench on Hamstead Heath that features in every film set in London where you get the most fantastic view in the whole of London.

I love the feel of the city, the people, who are not in the least bit unfriendly merely busy, the mixing and fusing of virtually every nationality in the world, mostly in peace and realtive harmony.

My old manor, Churchfield Road in W3 is brilliant for being able to eat from every continent in just one street. Apparently it's gone a bit middle class since I left there but I can't see the road and the surrounding area ever losing its vitality and energy.

Other places I love:
Highgate cemetery

St James's Park (but not in summer when I'm tying to eat my lunch but American tourists keep asking me where the palace is!)

The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green

The Museum of London and the London Wall Walk

Waterloo bridge at sunset

Ravenscourt Park in Hammersmith

Richmond Hill and the view down to the river

The way you can shake hands with the pilots when sitting in a garden in Heston

The Gunnersbury Triangle, a real wilderness in urban land

The Dome

Standing on the Greenwich Meridian...oh those tourist type photographs!

St Katherine's Dock

Columbia Rd flower marker

Bacon bagels from a little stall on the Old Kent Road at 4am

The gothic pile that is the Royal Courts of Justice

Those lovely old pubs in the little windy alleyways of the city and in particular EC4 such as the Old Cheese

Picnics on Hamstead Heath and a swim in the lido

London Zoo and Regents Park and especially the penguins

Camden Market

Notting Hill Carnival and getting blasted with a ten skin spliff in full view of members of HM's metropolitan constabulary

The canals

The tube (yup I know I'm mad)

That bloody great big wheel

I gosh, I miss London sooooooo much.

flyingfinn said...

Oh, and I like the museams. There's so many, and they're all good. I loved visiting them as a child during the holidays.

Span Ows said...

Oh the joy just reading all this...yes I was born and raised (in the suburbs admittedly) but n'er every weekend 'uptown'.

Ditto finn re S of the river...hehehe, except have great friends in Kennington and Dulwich.

Also...we ALL know why Mags loves Highgate Cemetery!

My youth was more live music than 'clubbing' but times change.

Funnily enough the exact same is said of Barcelona 'city' i.e. look up.

Six Years Late said...


Waterloo bridge at anytime is good

The view from the cafe out to Ham and Teddington is as good as Richmond Hill

Greenwich astronomy is the other great view of London and I'd agree the dome from there looks extraordinarily otherworldly

St Katherine's Dock ditto

Columbia Rd flower marker ditto

Bacon bagels from a little stall on the Old Kent Road at 4am - sounds fantastic but what an amusing contradiction a bacon bagel is.

The Builders Arms in Shoreditch

Picnics on Hamstead Heath and a swim in the lido - or the nude bathing

London Zoo and Regents Park and especially the penguins - ahhhhh

Camden Market - I was going to put that

Notting Hill Carnival and getting blasted with a ten skin spliff in full view of members of HM's metropolitan constabulary - How could I forget

The Isabella is marvellous at any time of the year i just got a bit carried away by the poetry love.

The other thing was, isn't the bench you're referring to on Primrose Hill?

Six Years Late said...

Span and Finn you can bugger off the South's got soul.

Six Years Late said...

Actually Span you're absolutely right about Barcelona, some of the Gaudi balconies are stunning.

Span Ows said...

I haven't been to Cambden market for about 20 years, last time I was there I bought a long Harris Tweed overcoat for 10 quid!...and boy did I look cool...:-)

Your 24 is very true. Even the picture on the MB entry page!

Six Years Late said...

I drove up to Euston to pick up my mother in law on Sunday and had Eben in the back of the car with me.

I deliberately took him over Westminster Bridge so that we could have a look at the Palace and as soon as it honed in to view he pointed and shouted 'Big Ben'. He's only ever seen it in books before, so it struck me just how distinctive it really is.

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Six, I got out my battered A-Z and its Parliament Hill that my bench is on. This then reminded me of Kenwood and the daffodils, which is beautiful when the sun is shining and those little yellow heads are bobbing in the breeze. Same can be said for Hampton Court. I lived in Surbition for a short time right by the river and I used to get the ferry over the river (10p I think) and then walk all the way down the tow path to HC. Once there I would walk up the Long Water and then around the gardens. After a refreshing drink in one of the local hostelries, I would then turn around and walk back. It was about 9 miles in total and you never see a car except by the pub. Truly brilliant.

I love the scrumptious contradiction of bacon bagels too! It really is the only way to have a bagel though unless you're Jewish of course!

Another favourite Vincent Square in Victoria. Football teams from outside London with a London game midweek often use the football field in the square for practice. Many happy hours have been spent on a bench there perving, I mean viewing the admirable talents of the players.

The statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

flyingfinn said...

I lived in Canning Town for the first five years of my life. I still vaguely remember when my mum used to work saturdays, and my dad used to take me and my brother to market by the Canning Town fly-over; and he'd buy a rabbit and make rabbit stew for us.

The we lived in east ham for five years, and that's when I became a West ham fan, as we lived only tens minutes walk from the ground. I still remember the roar from the ground when we beat Newcastle 8-1 during the 85-86 season. Otherwise, East ham was a bit of a dump.

Then I spent fourteen years in Ebfield, North London. Nuff said.

Six. You brought up the Notting Hill Carnival. I went in 99, and it's definately one of London's best events. Especially when the weather is fine as it was then.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Cris - even if you have put it on the News Baord from time to time. People don't big up london enough in my view. Love it to bits and wherever I go I'm always secretly quite glad when I'm back here.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Cris - even if you have put it on the News Baord from time to time. People don't big up london enough in my view. Love it to bits and wherever I go I'm always secretly quite glad when I'm back here.

Gavin Corder said...

Happy everything to you and yours Six.

Seriously. If you had an address - and no I'm not a stalker - I would have sent something for Louis.

We moved out of West London when Alex was a baby. Curiously he's moved back to study. I worry about him but I love it that he chose life in the city where he was born not a provincial backwater (Oxford!).

Kayfer Kettle said...

Hi Six,

Hope all is well with you and yours.

I absolutely agree with the philosophy of looking up when you are in towns and cities.

I have now lived in Windsor for half of my life, and a few years ago I noticed the beautiful old original upper fronts to the buildings in the High Street areas of the town. They are unchanged, despite different shops coming and going over the years. There are of course the usual eye cathchers in such a lovely town, but I'd missed those upper fronts time and time again.

I always look up now.

K x

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