Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rainy London Town

Oh, and by the way.... our pre-Christmas trip to London was super!
Lots of decorations everywhere so it felt like Christmas is on its way
Loads of people bustling and walking and shopping and drinking in the open air huddled below gas lamps (beloved invention!)
Ok, London is definitely getting more expensive every year and the £ dwarfing every other currency is clearly not helping...
But everything looks so lovely and yummy and tempting. From the crisp Thomas Pink shirts on Jermyn Street, the scrumptious oeufs bénédicte at Richelieu's, the gorgeous tea tins, cheeses, charcuteries, Foie Gras and assorted Christmas hampers at Fortnum and Masons to the mixed nuts, crisps, cheddars and white chocolate covered strawberries at Marks and Sparks, it was a feast for the eyes and a thoroughly tempting shopping experience. You've got to hand it to them, the English do have wrapping & packaging (both literally and figuratively) down to a tee. I wanted to take all of it back with me.

So enjoyed the oysters and Muscat and the fish and chips too (I recommend Randall & Aubin on 16 Brewer Street, W1, Soho London)
Portobello market in the rain and running for shelter in a pub with a dripping but merry crowd!
The Christmas stalls at Covent Garden and the handy Metro Tesco's everywhere.

It's a funny feeling going back to a city you've lived in. You know your way around; some of your landmark spots are thankfully still there -although they might have changed the branding on their coffee cups and the staff is now Albanian.
While it feels familiar it also feels different; one of your favorite restaurants has given way to a whole new block of glass office buildings their escalators wrapped in sparkling lights, the formerly colorful and spicy Indian is now empty and depressing, the once scruffy mall with the dingy, but well stocked health food store, has turned into a modern complex with smart boutiques and cafés, its previously grey facade is now bright-white and garnished with trees and benches, and the student hall you lived in has been converted into something different and undefined.
Strangely, it is the informal dealers like flower vendors that have kept their habits and venues. High-street shops and cafés have come and gone. Big brands have taken over entire buildings turning them into museum-like showcases that have become weekend excursion venues for the dream-hungry consumers... Among them, many no doubt, are working poor.

Some things, happily, are the same, no matter how many years go by.
The thick air in the tube stations, whooshing upwards and outwards as yet another train moves on; the persistent emanation of rancid and over-used oil, common to most larger cities; the familiar chugging of a Black cab making a turn; the merry "good night luv" as you climb out of your cab or leave a pub...

London town... nearly a decade since I lived there, and I'm thinking it's true; time does go by more quickly as time goes by.

1 comment:

J. said...

Oh, how weird! Just came back from a househunting week in London. My first time there, and, yes, how lovely. How lucky to be able to live there. I think...Stupid, robust economy. Crappy dollar.