London is electric.
The second your toes hit the tarmac you can feel it – there’s just something about the energy there. It’s buzzing. It’s chaotic. It’s alive.
Having lived in London for four years of my life, four really incredible years, I’m forever swept off my feet and held tight in the warm embrace of nostalgia every time somebody elbows me in the rib cage fighting to get on the tube at Euston.
I stand there on the platform bemused by the anxious stampede around me as my clenched feet cling to a concrete safe spot behind the yellow line. I’m mildly bruised but smiling, waiting patiently for the next tube to arrive in less than thirty seconds’ time.
The London clock ticks faster than anywhere in the world; everybody’s scrambling around and everybody’s in a rush to get somewhere.
Free To Be Whoever I
Sundays are perhaps the only day of the week where the London clock does actually slow down.
It’s like somebody slams the brakes on a high speed train and when the brakes finally stop screeching against the wheels, you’re left with a grainy silence; a needle slowly drops into the groove and a mellow-sounding record starts to spin.
We ambled along the cobbled streets of Shoreditch, hunting down our vegan brunch. As we turned the corner of Redchurch Street, lazy beats and electric neon signs beckoned us up the concrete steps towards Electric Cinema.
Sat on wooden chairs, we sipped on soy milk matcha lattes and feasted on our animal-free fry ups, feeling sorry for the hangovers around us. Then, while he made his way to the RAC in Pall Mall for a backgammon tournament, I continued my Sunday stroll.
Following the wafts of freshly ground coffee towards the crowds of people huddling around market stalls, I weaved my way among them to keep warm. I spent a few preciously peaceful moments stood there in my oversized bobble hat holding on to a paper cup waterbottle, watching East London life pass me by.
Girls in sheepskin fur collars and seventies hairstyles piled down from Columbia Road cradling bunches of daffodils wrapped in brown paper. Lost loners with glitter-coated eyes tottered aimlessly along the streets of the morning after as their minds held on to the night before, almost going unnoticed amongst the crowds of dishevelled denim and smudged mascara.
Men wearing beanie hats took their tiny little dogs for a walk while showing off their shivering ankles in trousers that looked three sizes too small. People held hands and nattered, others zombied along in a happy state of silence. The pace was slow and sedate. Everybody had a story to tell.
I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world quite like Brick Lane – at least there’s nowhere in the world with so many hairstyles per square metre or such a high beard-to-face ratio.
And there’s just something about wandering along it on a Sunday that makes you feel so free.
All Around The World
The rest of the week was spent in our favourite London places and exploring new ones.
After months spent hurtling around a paradise island on the back of a scooter, lazing together by the pool in honeymoon hotels and looking up to the skies from a rooftop terrace in a city full of skyscrapers – wandering around the British Capital felt like a little slice of normality. Yet, out of all the magical things we’ve done, it’s probably the least extravagant moments that are the most special.
It’s the moments when the rest of the world disappears and there’s nothing else in focus, when minutes feel like hours and you really wish for time to stop. Like standing in the turbine room of the Tate Modern, wrapped in the layers of his coat, neither one of us wanting to let each other go.
We wandered, hand in hand, around the large white rooms of his favourite gallery looking at paintings and photographs and sculptures. We sat in dark rooms watching short films and we stood side by side reading what it was all about.
And just when I thought we were all arted out, “there’s just one more thing I want to show you”, he said.
We took a lift to the tenth floor and when the doors opened, my eyes were blinded by bright blue skies and an uncontrollable smile of surprise took over my face.
We walked to the edge of the Blavatnik Building viewing terrace and looked out onto the springtime skyline. My hands grasped tight hold of the railings and my heart grasped tight hold of another magical moment.
London, I love you.