If you read my recent post on my walking commute musings, you might have noticed a snap of one of my favourite parts of London: the Duck Island cottage. The thing is… ever since I moved to Westminster in 2013, I simply cannot get enough of St James’s Park. So since this love has manifested itself in a myriad pictures, I thought I should do a post just on that: an album of my best snaps of the Park all through the seasons to mark my second anniversary living in SW1.
I’m walking to the office on a non-descript working day, the only sounds in my ears are the beats of my Spotify account. It’s warm and sticky and grey, the city’s essence rejoices in its weather attributes.
If you love South Bank as much as I do, have walked its path this summer and are even a tiny bit observant, you will surely have noticed a structure that appears to look like a boat perched on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Hall rooftop.
The said boat can’t actually navigate down the Thames but it instead welcomes Londoners every night and for one night only in its one-bedroom comfort. Called A Room for London, the riverboat is an architectural installation open to the public through a competitive ballot and (one must add) by contributing a considerably hefty fee. The brainchild of Artangel and Living Architecture, it was originally developed as part of the London 2012 Festival but it proved so popular that it has remained open all through 2013. According to the collaborators, David Kohn Architects designed it in collaboration with artist Fiona Banner, taking inspiration from Joseph Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness and Roi de Belges (the boat he captained in the Congo in 1890).
Today I spent some time updating this blog. I changed the theme, added to the “About me” section and made sure that all my posts now have featured images (because I decided that I can’t deal with the absence of a visual element to my scribblings). While I went back to my old posts, I recognised a pattern… This blog started almost at the same time that I started to experience and love London. It was called Sticky Notes as I aspired to keep coming back to it with different topics and different tones – which to an extent happened. But let’s be honest, most of my notes should have been called London Sticky Notes to begin with (and maybe I should have asked VisitLondon to incorporate them to their promotional material seeing that it seems that I only seem to be inspired by the good stuff). Continue reading A little bit of London loving
About a a year ago, during a rather dull layover back to London from Athens, a bored Dutch border control employee asked me what the purpose of my visit to London was.
I must have been taken aback by the unexpected exchange that constituted something more than ‘Hello!’, ‘hello’, ‘thanks’ and a nod to proceed. I replied the first thing that came to my head:
While she checked my passport, I quickly pulled my thoughts together. Concentrate, what the hell did you just say? I tried to think fast how I could remediate what I had just uttered. It’s not that it wasn’t true but it felt like an incomplete statement.
I live there.
I left the border control with a sense of disappointment, my own instinctive responses surprised me.
I remembered that day tonight while coming back from a work trip in Switzerland. A clear sky awaited our descent into City airport and as I watched the lights twinkle and the city so beautiful and vibrant, I thought to myself, I’m glad I’m coming home.
A little girl in a tutu eats a biscuit sitting on her father’s shoulders.
A man walks down Percy Street holding two pineapples, one in each hand – a pack of mint in his shirt pocket.
A woman waits for the bus. In one hand a headless lamp, in the other one a huge empty bottle of champagne.
A man tucks in his box of discounted chicken outside Sainsbury’s in Camden.
A girl on the tube holds three teddy bears with floral hats on – the fabric getting caught in her red fingernails.
An old man carries his old radio around playing God only knows dragging an empty carrier bag, looking in his pockets for God only knows what and talking to himself.
A guy in a yellow shirt with planes jives in a liquor store, his dame wears a yellow flower in her hair.
Most days I’m there to take the frame and yet manage to stay out of it. Then some days the objects of my observations turn around to communicate with me; maybe our one common identity – that of the Londoner – is what brings us together for a moment.
Like the lady sitting next to me at Starbuck’s in Waterloo station quietly reading her copies of free magazines while I was sipping my coffee watching people come in and out. She passed the first copy on to me and when she left, she handed me the rest and smiled as if she had done a good deed.
And the old gentleman who was walking his dogs around Camden Square and guessed by my excitement when I played with his pug and labrador that I must have had pets at some point and loved them very much. Who also guessed as he said that I must have studied law – and lo and behold, he was right about all of the above.
There’s a secret code sometimes between us. Something that makes people turn around in the direction of a fellow Londoner’s gaze when he’s stopped in the middle of Russel Square looking at something and smiling a full blown smile. And it’s a dog crazily chasing after a remote control car in circles making everyone giggle.
Now if this post sounds too soppy and sugary sweet, gimme a couple of days. Once the clouds and rain are back, it’s all going to be a rant about bloody late buses and imaginary droughts.
While my WordPress tab was dormant for a while, our lovely Londontown experienced summer and autumn all within the same season and I’ve failed to notice because of all my whining about the sun but this city never looks better except in fall.
A woman sitting at a table outside a cafe, holding a cigarette in one hand and drinking an Actimel after exhaling the smoke.
In the cornershop, a guy talks to his friend while paying for his can of Coke. ‘The missus is away tonight, so I’ll have to make dinner’.
The owner of a miserable Chinese takeaway talking to the Portuguese delivery guy: ‘Where is the money? You know, if there is no money, there is no honey!’
A guy holding his girl’s face in his hands in front of a boarded building on Pentonville Road.
Standing up from the bench I’m sitting on at Russell Square drinking peppermint tea, I read the inscription with the corner of my eye. The name and age is now a blur, the bottom line reads:
Never tired of London.
All the stuff I’ve been trying to write lately is either too sentimental or too sickeningly happy that I think I’m going to abstain until I can find my voice again. I didn’t want to be too quiet though, so here are some of my favourite London photos (so far). They go nicely with this soundtrack.
This year has been one of many firsts and it was bound to go out with a bang. In keeping with the theme of 2010, this was my first Christmas away from home. (the Greek home that is, I’m still very confused with the use of the particular noun).