Last weekend I went to visit a very good friend of mine in good ol’ London Town.
I always enjoy heading to London because it really does feel like another world down there with its chaotic city atmosphere compared to the calm serenity of the Yorkshire countryside.
It’s a great contrast to what I’m used to but sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of footfall (and general franticity) which makes me wonder whether I’d ever be able to live there. It’s so much hustle and bustle and people are always in a hurry to get places. I’m quite laid-back and leisurely so sometimes it feels like I don’t belong – like the city wants to swallow me up and spit me back out.
Anyway it’s still a pretty cool place to visit from time to time and I find that, now that I’m older and have previously visited a handful of times, I’ve done the main touristy things which leaves room to do the ‘not quite as’ touristy things.
On Friday night, my buddy took me to Limehouse – an area I’d never been to before.
It’s kinda low key and chilled compared to other areas of London. The places we went to were busy, but not overly busy, and the streets were practically deserted more often than not.
We went for dinner at this cute little Italian called ‘La Figa’ before heading to the ‘The Narrow’ – the Thameside gastropub that Gordon Ramsay owns.
It has beautiful views of the river, especially at night while the skyscrapers are alight. (I’m a poet but, yes, I do know it.)
We had a cheeky tipple in there before proceeding to Ian McKellen’s part-owned pub – The Grapes.
This is a small, old-fashioned watering hole that resonates Britishness down to its very core. However, the most exciting thing about it is the fact that Gandalf’s staff takes precedence on the wall behind the bar. *Fangirl squee!* It was just perched there looking at me while I was casually sipping my Kopparberg Strawberry and Lime which was pretty cool.
My friend also said he was once having a drink in there and Ian McKellen was sat right behind him #notjealousatall.
After the excitement and tipsiness of Limehouse, we headed back to my friend’s place in Canary Wharf where we could crash and sleep off the alcohol.
Then, the next day, my friend took me to The Breakfast Club in Canary Wharf which is about a 15 minute walk from his flat.
It’s basically decorated all 70’s-American-diner style with wood panelling, cheap chandeliers and leather booths with a jukebox on the wall. Oh and did I mention that the breakfast is AWESOME?! My friend had pancakes with bacon and maple syrup which was yummy (I sampled some, obviously) then I had Eggs Royale with smoked salmon on a toasted muffin. 100% NOM-tastic.
After breakfast, I had an urge to visit Camden again. I had been once before with Uni peeps but I’d forgotten about its many charms and wanted my memory refreshing.
The markets were just as cute and quaint as I remember.
We went to the psychedelic monstrosity that is ‘CyberDog’ (basically the gadget, clothing and sex shop that’s on drugs) just because you’ve got to – then decided to find somewhere to perch besides the canal with a drink in hand where we could watch the world go by.
Camden was buzzing with crowds, as always, so I really enjoyed people watching. You find the best characters in Camden.
We then walked along the canal, past many boats decorated in weird and wonderful ways, towards the delight that is Primrose Hill.
I’d heard of Primrose Hill (doesn’t it sound the prettiest?!) but never been before. It’s basically a massive park with a hill at the end of it (as the name suggests). At the top of that hill awaits an incredible view. Hello, London skyline! You little beauty, you.
After spending several moments staring in wonder at the view, we walked from Primrose Hill to Regent’s Park next door – so much greenery and so much gorgeousness!
The sun kept peeking out of the clouds throughout the afternoon and, when it did, all felt right with the world. You can’t beat vitamin D’s on your face as you’re strolling through picturesque nature.
After Regent’s Park, we walked past Sherlock Holmes’ house on Baker Street before hopping back on the tube to Canary Wharf.
My friend took me for an early dinner at Gourmet Burger Kitchen because I’d never been (yes, I live a sheltered life) and then we mooched through the financial district of Canary Wharf to soak up some more skyscrapers and canals.
There’s a really cute park which runs through the buildings before you reach the tube station with trickling fountains and trees that are almost in blossom.
We sat there for a moment and pondered about life before heading back to my friend’s place for a chilled out evening of copious amounts of cups of tea, M&M’s and Peter Kay.
My friend worked out that we’d walked 12,000 steps that day which was a surprise – that’s more than I’d usually do in a week! (COME AT ME, skinny summer body.) It’s so easy to get carried away with walking in London because everything is so spread out and there’s so much to explore. The tube network definitely helps to get places and fast.
After a good nights sleep of being knocked out from exhaustion, I headed back up North late morning on the Sunday.
Then, before I knew it, I was back in the homeland.
London, you were a fun one. Hope to see you again soon! And thank you to my friend for having me.