It’s 4.45am here in London and it’s dawn. The birds are practicing the Hallelujah chorus and there’s a distant hum of London traffic. I arrived yesterday and even in my jet-lagged state managed to walk 18 kilometres – not sure what that is in miles….10, 000 steps a day? Hah! Try 27,931!
It was raining hard and quite cold yesterday but I was euphoric to be back in London town. Heathrow was relatively quiet at 5.30am. I felt like an alien from another planet conquering the gleaming silver travellators with my worldly possessions cruising along side. Companions in adventure. First stop- a decent cup of coffee and then the Heathrow express into town. Everything was efficient, seamless and clean. The London taxi driver was so funny and happy- how do they laugh and be so friendly at 6am in the morning when its pouring rain and they drive black chariots around narrow, winding medieval streets? Luggage dropped I adventure in old haunts.
Internet is good at Pret a Manger so at 6.30am. I am eating breakfast and doing social media. It is absolutely pouring and freezing. It’s not the sweet-smelling spring showers followed by gentle sunshine that I remember. Nope this is torrential, icy, malicious rain which laughs at my pewter summer pumps and makes my bones rattle. Dressed in puffer coats, boots and hats the locals scurry for shelter. I take the tube into Oxford Street and take refuge until I hit Debenhams Sale section and outfit myself in leather boots, socks and a big woolly jumper..a bit like Pretty Woman hitting Rodeo Drive but wearing every item she bought! I rationalise the winter booty. I am going to Scotland after all.
Then I’m back out there and nothing will stop me. What hits me about my shopping spree in Oxford Street is the sheer volume of stuff available catering for a massive population. There is so much choice and I am staggered by the range of options. I look at the windows of Selfridges that are renowned for their artistic creations. Five windows of vivid metallic creations curated to launch one brand..the money that must be spent on the window displays alone. Don’t think mannequins hold handbags……think robotics and lighting and vivid imagery… who needs an art gallery!
After heading back to create a home in my lovely little hotel room I wander Notting Hill and scour real estate windows for my fantasy next home..perhaps I can buy one for the kids too. It’s a sledge hammer moment. Seriously? Rental of $20,000 Australian dollars A WEEK. Not a mis-print. That’s a week for renting a house in Notting Hill. But there are cheaper options at $10,000 a week! Here in the world of private garden squares, gleaming white 5 storey Victorian terraces and luxury dining there are seriously rich people living the dream. Where are the homeless people? None here visible. Where is an old car or a Hyundai? Among the Maserati’s and Porsches, nannies and drivers are there is no visible signs of another world. Even the delivery vans are beautiful! It’s a reality check. I am lucky to have come to London many times but I only see the best bits. I walk Hyde Park but I don’t sleep in it. It’s a dream I enter into for a few short weeks and I love the dream.
I’m tired but unable to sleep, so I keep on walking after a delicious late lunch at the local pub. English pubs are so lovely and again it’s the friendliness that’s on tap. A dog walker comes in with her 5 dogs of various sizes but only one pedigree. She has her pint and chats to the bar – tender. Other customers don’t’ blink when they have to climb over the dogs to reach the bar. The Russian bar tender knows it’s all ok. I wander into Hyde Park and smile at the funny little notices pinned on the notice board by “Management.” Horses at certain hours, dogs at all times and humans are all ok in the park. Drones however are not. Neither are model aircraft!
These vast green spaces make this city. Older people sit on park benches with their flask of tea and sandwiches. There are lunch time runners and dog walkers, cyclists and a nannies meet-up at the lake. I always explore Kensington gardens to see the stunning Sunken Garden that Diana, princess of Wales used to wander in. She would visit early and chat to the gardeners about the colour scheme for the season. It’s a stunning formal garden and breath-takingly quiet. People seem to find a reverence here and quietly stroll taking photos and speaking quietly. The sun has comes out and the showers turn to drizzle. London has called me again and it never fails to open my heart.