Saturday, 9 January 2010

On My Return to the Big Smoke

This week, as I've already harped on about, was my first week back at work. While it's been predictably panic-stricken and stressful, it's also been a welcome return to normality. I get a bit sick of my own company after about a week. I lived in Italy for a year where in all honesty I did very little but venture out after sundown for booze-ups - I had so much alone time to kill that I ended up turning into an incredibly irritable, massively lazy and depressed version of myself. This is something I'd like to avoid.

It also marked my return to London. I do technically live in London, but right on the edge. Literally, on the point where grey turns green. So this week I've been dragged away from the comfy little suburban cushion I've been cocooned in for the last couple of weeks and into the hustle and bustle of the Big Smoke...and not a moment too soon.

Because I love the place. I even enjoy commuting to work. I pull into Fenchurch Street, from which I enjoy a short stroll through the glass towers of the City before going Underground until King's Cross, where I work. It might not be a red light district anymore, but it still has a gritty edge that I'd miss if I worked closer to the centre. And that's what I love - the rich & the poor, the old and the new...countless opposites jostling for attention everywhere you look. What I mean, and am not very good at saying, is perfectly summed up by Stephen K here. I'd also give the Fulham fans at Craven Cottage a mention, but I appreciate that that's pretty specific to me...Other than that I think he captures what I'm getting at flawlessly.

This set me to thinking of my top five favourite places in London, which I'll bore you with now:

5. Finsbury Circus - somewhere between Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations. A circle of park, complete with trees, bowling green and band stand, an oasis in the centre of the City. Last summer, I used to meet two schoolfriends every Monday after work - but I'd always have an hour to kill until I met them, so I'd pick a pench and dive into whichever Twilight book I was reading. I know, I should be ashamed. I lost a month of free time to those books.

4. Hoxton Square - trendiest place in London? Full of bohemian independent bars, and the sort of restaurants where you have to share tables with strangers. N is lucky to work round the corner - and dragged me there last year to eat Chinese on the floor of the square. I was drunk and am very poor with chopsticks - add some stoners nearby and you have a massively uncomfortable meal. But it was fun - and that's what N's good at.

3. Craven Cottage, SW6 - possible the most beautiful football ground in the country, but I'm not an expert, and am particularly biased. Has great character and old-school charm, sits right on the river a short and pretty walk through Bishops Park from Putney Bridge Station.

2. Camden Town - grunge-chic dominates in the grimey pubs and alternative markets around the canals. Also one of the first places I ever got drunk, so will always have a special place in my heart.

1. Kings Cross - once the redlight district, is now trying very hard to transform itself into a swanky business area. Bistro pubs are popping up like there's no tomorrow, rubbing shoulders with the last remaining porn shops and erotic cinemas. It's an exciting place to work as, being the gateway to the North and where the Eurostar finishes, there are so many different types of people crossing paths.

So my week has been a bitter-sweet experience. I'm back in the thick of it, the excitement and fast pace of London, but I've also returned to work...and responsibility, which has been a rather rude awakening. But I won't moan - if I really think about it, I probably wouldn't change a thing.


  1. I absolutley love London! I've visited before and have always sworn that I would live there at some point in my life. It is definately one of my favorite places in the whole world!

  2. I'm glad you think so :) Do you think you could cope without the sun though?