Ten Ways To Fall Back In Love With London
After a long and particularly boring winter, we have a tendency to disrespect London and find fault with the city. Then along comes a warm spring evening and everything is somehow alright again. In order to maximise this rare and lovely sensation, here’s a handy guide to what you can do on the next impromptu burst of evening sunshine to rekindle the love – bearing in mind that London weather frequently improves at the end of the day.
1. Walk along Carter Lane
This little street runs behind New Fetter Lane toward St Paul’s, and leads to a network of tiny alleys and roads full of pubs where people are drinking outside in slanting sunlight. Loving the Photoshopped image, guys, it looks so real somehow (mercifully it’s nicer than this).
2. Stand on this thing
It’s a bit rubbish as a sculpture but it’s not supposed to be. People never use it correctly. You’re meant to lie back on it and look at the stunning view across the Thames. It’s just near Tower Wharf, past Doggett’s Coat & Badge heading to the NT.
3. Fourth floor, Royal Festival Hall
While everyone else is looking for a place in the sun and squashing themselves into slivers of precious evening light, you’ll find a comfortable empty seat waiting for you and a grand view overlooking the London Eye – you don’t have to be going to a concert to use the bars or the view.
4. Regent’s Park Inner Circle
The rose garden is going bananas, bursting into a veritable riot of colour. But don’t trek up through Camden, cut from the little-used Regent’s Park tube station – that’s what it’s there for!
5. Canalside steps – Granary Square
They’ve gone to all the trouble of building these perfect seats in the newly designated NC1 area behind St Pancras Station, just so you can sit facing the sun and chill out of an evening, yet they’re underused because – damn you, modern art school students – you’re all in too much of a rush to get on with your careers.
6. The Angel at Bermondsey Wall
Want to impress your visiting friends? Head for the rear Thameside terrace and watch the sun set between the towers of Tower Bridge – it’s a pain to get to, so there’s always space.
7. Get Lost
Walk through the alleys between St Paul’s and Lincoln’s Inn. Head from the Cutty Sark ship to the Cutty Sark pub along the Thames, and watch the seagulls dipping into the water while you contemplate our naval history. Get into a tangle around the back of St Bart’s. Sit in Martin Chuzzlewit’s Fountain Court. You’ll probably need a copy of David Long’s excellent book ‘Hidden London’.
8. Rural Clerkenwell
St James’s churchyard, birdsong, the new-mown grass of Spa Field Park at your back, tucked-away restaurants, a village pub – is this the Cotswolds? Oh, wait, we’re two minutes from the dead centre of London!
9. The Statues of Buckingham Palace
Leave the horrors of Piccadilly Circus, now dominated by McDonalds LEDs, and Leicester Square with its tacky W Hotel and M&M World. Head instead for the last place you’d ever normally walk, Pall Mall, and you’ll find very tourists there as the sun sets. You may wish to read a poem called ‘The Statues of Buckingham Palace’ by Imogen Robertson as you walk, from a slim volume called ‘Ode To London: Poems To Celebrate The City’.
10. …The North Embankment
The South Side is suddenly messy and overcrowded because of redevelopment, with too many chain restaurants cluttering up the view, but the North side, isn’t that just too tricky to negotiate around Blackfriars? True but persevere – somewhere along this great stretch of river, near the old Billingsgate building, you’ll find benches in the evening sun away from the crowds.