It’s only when you live in London that you start to get to grips with the city. As a frequent visitor over the years, there’s no real need to get to know it. You use the city—for business and for pleasure, it’s just there.
One of the key parts of getting on with London is orientation I think—Londoners already have this nailed but us newbies have years of half-baked tube map and taxi journey knowledge, which isn’t massively useful. So we’ve taken to walking everywhere which hugely helps to understand how this giant city fits together and also how not so giant the city centre is.
City Road looking from Old Street, the sun was setting with the new build apartment blocks looking majestic and glamorous. City Road is a major artery into the Square Mile and beyond eastwards. The city creeping outwards, constantly growing and evolving.
There is tranquility to be had in the bustle of the city and this is Bunhill Fileds, one of the London’s oldest burial grounds. Formerly ‘Bonehill Fields’ it is final resting place of William Blake and Daniel Defoe amongst others. The ancient graves sit quietly in a haven of dappled sunlight and bluebells in early summer.
London is of course full to bursting with history and I was taken with this map on a construction hoarding in the city. It show the area where we live as a rural area which of course it isn’t now. This applies to every major city I realise but the etymology of place names and historical references fascinate me.
Everywhere you look in London it’s the juxtaposition of old and new. Sometimes they sit beautifully together and sometimes they jar. I like the combination personally: it speaks of a city alive with growth and industry but the only caveat I would impose would be breathtaking design is the prerequisite for any addition.
In the heart of the square mile of the city, commerce is king and midweek the thrum of the financial world is focused on London. On a weekend though, it empties out and everywhere is closed, even M&S. It’s the best time to marvel at this tiny but impressive pocket of the city.
Graffiti art in Shoreditch (where we live) is everywhere and an art form in itself. Clearly encouraged and commissioned, street art adds to the edgy narrative of this engaging neighbourhood. Too cool for school for some, Shoreditch is an essential part of London’s nightlife, the focus of countless cool bars and clubs.
There’s proper modern art galleries to be found too in Shoreditch. This is My Art Invest Gallery on Commercial Road, an eclectic mix of modern and street art influenced work that can be part owned in a share purchase scheme. The piece above is The Grapes of Wrath by Ludo…skulls as a bunch of grapes, bit obvious but I liked it.
We took in the more traditional side of London too with the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Astonishing to think this happens every day. Of course the tourists love it and they were there in their thousands. I love a bit of pomp and ceremony too, so I’ll be honest and say I lapped it up.
This dude has to stand all day, stock still, in all weathers so hats off to him—if you’ll excuse the pun. What lies beyond the gates at Buck Palace is of course only for the select few to experience and for us commoners to dream about. I wouldn’t class myself and a royalist as such but it’s hard not to be impressed by the machinery of it all.
Cranes are everywhere in London and gaping holes don’t stay that way for very long. They are always the precursor to something big and bold taking shape. There are many that hand wring about changing the face of London too much, and I suspect that has always been the way for centuries.