Being back in London was a strange feeling. It felt like I never really left, although I realised when I was there that I've been away for 6 months already.
It was wonderful seeing everyone and picking up right where I left off. I was constantly on the move, staying with close friends in Streatham, Primrose Hill, Mill Hill and finally Kingston over the course of 10 days. I never had time to unpack but I quite like being a nomad anyway.
London was very much unchanged bar the odd buildings having been torn down in Victoria. I spent an unreasonable amount of time in Topshop and Marks & Spencer (just admiring the perfectly arranged vegetables, how sad!) - guess I missed those shops more than I realised.
I was freezing cold though, having ignored most people’s sound advice about packing plenty of jumpers. I had optimistically taken a few summer dresses with me, which obviously never saw the light of the day.
The main change really was the smoking ban, which the city seem to have taken extremely seriously. It’s almost fanatical actually – I even had a complete stranger tell me on the street that I was “too beautiful for that cigarette’! As any girl would do, I decided to take the compliment and ignore the insult.
Special wardens seem to have been given the specific role of shooing away people who attempt to smoke outside of office building or from outdoors areas that happen to have a tiny bit of a roof over them – I decided that it must be some kind of job creation scheme. There were also constant announcements in Victoria station reminding evil smokers that they were not allowed to do the deed anywhere inside or near the vicinity.
It’s a positive thing though, but not just because of the obvious reasons (death and other bothersome health conditions for example) … it means that almost every single bar and restaurant has now managed to find outdoor space on pavements or courtyards I didn’t even know they had to set tables outside. It struck me how much it now looks a little like New York and that therefore a lot of the alfresco areas here are designed to accommodate smokers. I think it creates a lot more atmosphere and livelihood, right in the streets.
I had a wonderful but exhausting week, very much burning the candle at both ends – I’ll be back at Christmas doing it all over again though!