Postcards from London
What can be said of London? Just the thought of it brings to mind fantastic accents, fish and chips, big grey skies, hustle and bustle and a slight sense of prim and proper. My first experience of London delivered all of this and more. It left me with the impression of being the big brother of Melbourne – there was a similar feel in the air, similar pockets of green that would pop up surprisingly around the corner, and both sat along the murky green stretch of a river.
But London was so much more than Melbourne could ever be. It was large and proud and full of streets where the brilliantly white terrace houses showed their personalities only by the colour of their doors. It was cozy, and comfortable, and instantly a home. London is the sort of place every Melburnian escapes to at one point or another, and from my first day there, I could see why.
We caught the overground from Heathrow, and as we passed by several neighbourhoods, it was a strange feeling of familiarity, but I knew that it was only what I’ve seen on TV presenting itself in reality. We got to Angel, the suburb where we would be staying, and all I could think was how it was the light blue square of the Monopoly board. It took me 10 seconds from exiting the Tube to see my first big, red, double decker bus, and I couldn’t get the grin off my face. Here it was, where I’d always dreamed of being – I was here, in Europe!
One thing I liked straight away was how wide the streets were. Growing up in a city where the trams have pushed the boundaries of the roads outwards, I’ve always been used to large boulevards, where the air can flow and you can breathe. I think it’s one of the reasons why I would have so much trouble were I to live in Sydney – everything’s so crowded and claustrophobic.
We stayed next door to a pub that opened for breakfast and closed late after karaoke. After some tea and toast and a quick shower, we headed out into the big, wide, London world. We walked the streets of Primrose Hill, where highly manicured ladies with small dogs pitter pattered down the walkway. We saw the whole cityscape and walked towards it through lush green parks, where rows of benches each held engraved plaques, dedicated to the thoughts of those who have passed. My favourite was for Harry Lester, as “this was his special place”.
We had fish and chips for lunch with warm beer, and a drink along the River Thames with a cold cider. At night, it was cheese toasties for dinner before heading to a bar ripped straight out of Mexico, where the bar staff spent more time flirting with eachother than pouring drinks, the music was from the 90s, and the dramas of a love-square held us mesmerised. It was fantastic.