Returning to London has been an interesting experience. I lived here from 2001 to 2004, mainly in SW1 around Westminster and Pimlico, but also in Wimbledon and Worcester Park for a time. This time I’ve stayed with some friends from Sydney who are living in E3, Bow, a part of London which i had never been to before.
On my second full day in London, I went back to Westminster and walked around my old neighbourhood, having a pint in the bar I used to work in and doing what I used to do on pretty much every day off – walk up through St James’ Park to Leicester Square and surrounds.
The walk was good cause for reflection on why I left Sydney in 2001, after finishing my degree and working on the Sydney Olympics. I knew that in part I’d come to London to disconnect from my life and who I had become in Sydney. I felt trapped in a situation I despised, and couldn’t see a way out except physically removing myself.
Walking up to Pall Mall I reflected on the many choices I made between 2001 and returning to Australia in 2005. I realised that, among other things, back then I was stripping back what I did and who I was in contact with until I felt able to reconstruct my self.
There’s so much more I could say here, but little of it is relevant to London in the here and now, save to say that, fourteen years after I first arrived here, I may be disconnecting from my life in Sydney for a short period of time, but I’m far from needing to run away and reconstruct who I am.
If you’re interested in knowing more about any of that, ask me sometime. For now, highlights of London this time around:
- Spending time in Bow, East London, close to the expansive Victoria Park, an excellent set of local businesses along the Roman Road, and important historical landmarks relating to the suffragette movement around the turn of the twentieth century.
- Attending Winterville in Victoria Park, with putt-putt golf, quality craft beers, the ‘best burger in London’ (the organic Venimoo burger) and a brownie, nougat and peanuts rolled into a ball and coated in hard choclate – yes, that was as good as it sounds.
- A traditional roast turkey lunch in a New Zealander-run cafe out the back of All-Hallows Church, the oldest church in London, followed by viewing London from above from the impressive Sky Garden.
- Exploring old haunts in and around Westminster, St James, Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Charing Cross and Covent Garden.
- Visiting Southbank Christmas Markets outside the Tate Modern, discovering some very delicious Palestinian food, before some late-night modern art viewing.
- Participating in the Stop the War Coalition’s national demonstration in response to the UK bombing Syria.
- Watching ice-skating at Somerset House.
- Attending an amazing Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy at Saturday midnight (though getting home at 3am after a long night bus ride wasn’t that much fun.
- Exploring the streets of Hackney Wick, with amazing street art, canals, bike-riding, smoked salmon and craft breweries.
- Seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D in Leicester Square at 6.30am, then doubling up and seeing it again across the square at 10.00am.
Slideshow of images below, also available on Flickr here.