London was a mouthful of fresh air. I mean, quite literally: we went from Conte d'été to Winter’s tale in less than three hours. The train trip was short, but I managed to have tea even before arriving at the capital, how British of me. We stopped at St. Pancras, the station was as dreamy as I remembered it. Red bricks under an arched glass roof, a perfect depiction of the old-but-make-it-modern feel all over the city (also, yes, I took a photo at platform 9 ¾). One step out of the station, it started raining cats and dogs. We didn’t have an umbrella so I used my coat as one, covering my head but not too eagerly, jumping clumsily from one stone to the next, secretly smiling under the raindrops. Hello, England.
On Saturday, we stayed west. We walked to Hampstead Heath up to the Hill Garden and Pergola. London is a huge city, yet nature feels so accessible and effortlessly green, refusing to surrender to human touch. I fantasized about living nearby and going for a run with my dog. I would wear a cap in case it rained and he’d be wearing a Barbour harness. We continued our tour along stoned streets and narrow alleys crowded with flowers, till we made it to the white front doors with golden lion shaped locks. It was cold but sunny, sparks of light intermittently heating our cheeks. We walked energetically, discussing how lovely those buildings were, slightly intimidated by the Masseratis parked on the streets. At South Kensington I bought a Hemingway in a nearby bookstore. In the queue to the counter I wished I could live in a city where all books were written in English.
The tall businessmen have to bend their heads to fit in the tube. I couldn’t help but giggle, they looked far less powerful in those uncomfortable postures. I thought power and stance must be strongly related and I remembered my mum correcting my pose on the dining table. We had dinner in Lahpet, a Burmese restaurant in Shoreditch. We were the last customers to leave and felt quite proud about it. We heard the waiters singing when heading outside, cheering the end of a long, exhausting evening. My best friend took us to a cocktail bar and we toasted to youth and togetherness, to revisited memories, to the ones yet to come.
We slept in on Sunday morning, but managed to drag ourselves to Columbia Road, where I got the most fabulous flower jar, handmade and everything, now staring at me still from the bedside table (I also got a red bus magnet for our fridge). At night, the city lights floated like candy on the river waters, blinking and shining in pink, yellow and blue, momentarily disappearing when the current changed or a boat sailed by. London smelled good, of autumn leaves and ancient wood, wet stones and exotic spices, soft flowery perfumes from the little stores. I could move to London, I think it’d suit me well. Outside the pubs, people discussed politics and gossip, holding a pint, splattering the floor with tiny drops of beer as they spoke, as they moved their arms to tell their stories with theatrical flair. I thought about Shakespeare. To be or not to be in London, that’s the question my friends. I think I have a plan.