I had one of those magically, surreal, ‘pinch-me’ days on Wednesday.
The temperatures in central London soared to 25°C and we had a rather unexpected summer-like day.
From the 43 bus travelling through the City, I watch workers sitting in any available green space as they eat lunch al fresco, people crowding onto pavements outside the pubs enjoying a lunchtime drink in the sunshine, and I listen to a man in a suit saying he is taking a half-day to make the most of it. London takes on a very different attitude in warm weather – everyone relaxes and and the atmosphere changes, as the city beats to a different rhythm and the sunshine makes the world a better place to be in.
I meet the incredible Kate Davies at Loop and after a brief, and very unofficial photocall we continue on our way down Camden Passage.
It’s not every day you find yourself hanging out with one of the most talented and influential knitters of our time, and as we sheltered from the sun and ate our lunch, I found myself nattering about Bob the oversexed Labrador my Father once owned – what was I thinking?! It felt similar to the time I served Mick Jagger (he’s smaller than you think) in a small boutique in West London and discussed a matching set of insect themed child’s wellington boots and umbrella with him – no wonder he had a slightly scared smile on his face!
A visit to my favourite chocolate shop, Paul A. Young is inevitable, and we gaze at the Willy Wonka-esque flavour combinations as we chew the fat with a fellow Northerner and rue the cost of London properties.
We walk down, and around, to Clerkenwell wandering through back streets and alleyways, before popping into the Margo Selby sample sale. Her textiles are incredible – unexpected colour combinations, textures and prints on heavy silks, cotton and linens – just wonderful!
One of my favourite things about London is that there is always something waiting to be discovered, and you can discover something new everyday, whether planned or by simply taking a different turning. The wander around Clerkenwell as we tried to find Margo Selby, was a perfect example – Passing Alley, St John’s Gate and The Goldsmiths Centre all new discoveries for me.
A new Routemaster bus takes us back to the West End and Charing Cross Road, a part of town which is almost unrecognisable from my days spent at Central Saint Martins, the building which now houses Foyles. Crossrail is changing the area beyond recognition as long-standing, independent businesses are forced to close and the Centre Point building is refurbished to become luxury apartments for wealthy overseas buyers.
Heading into Covent Garden I sit and people watch for a little while as I start reading a new book. Dancers, musicians, creatives, restaurant workers, tourists – all going at a slightly slower pace in the evening sun pass by.
A reuben sandwich and chocolate milkshake with a dear friend at one of my favourite restaurants, precedes an Insight event at the Royal Opera House. Here I am privileged to watch Wayne McGregor, one of the worlds leading and most creative choreographers, take an international cast of world class dancers through their paces for a new ballet based on several of Virginia Woolf’s books. Bonnie Greer leads a discussion and I wonder how different life would be if my pink trainers had decided they wanted to be pointe shoes instead.
I jump on another bus and head back across the river and fall into bed.
We gave notice on our flat on Wednesday and within two months will be leaving this amazing city I have been lucky to call home for almost half my life. I’m going to miss it terribly.
“…when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson, 1777