Weekend in London
We have just had a friend visit us from New York. It is the first time Zach has ever left America so we wanted to make sure his 3 days in London were action packed. That they were! When we have visitors and play the tourist in our own cities we realize why we live in them in the first place. Last weekend did just that for me. I have been living in London on and off for the past 14 years and I never tire of the place. Each area keeps reinventing itself which makes exploring the city exciting and fresh. Peter Ackroyd covers it perfectly in his book London: The Biography.
Zach did a lot of wondering himself which in my view is the best way to really see a city. If you spend all your time on the tube you will never come across the random roads and alleyways that London has in abundance. He did some of the classical things on his meanderings like see a west end show and visit the British museum. He braved Portobello & Camden markets and even had the guts to walk down Oxford Street!
On Saturday night we went to Tate Modern to see the Roy Liechtenstein retrospective. I had never been to a gallery on a Saturday night but I will from now on as the show was a lot quieter than I imagined. We really had a chance to look at the pieces which I was happy about as I love Liechtenstein’s work.
After being cultural we did what most other Londoners do on a Saturday night: drink! We had a slow walk along the Southbank to one of my favourite drinking holes in the city – Gordon’s wine bar. Zach loved it, especially as it’s so old. It has been established in its present form since 1890. There are not that many (if any) places in America that is still operating from that year. The building itself has an amazing history.
Here is what I found on the official website: The building in which the bar is situated was home to Samuel Pepys in the 1680s and more recently (1820) by Minier & Fair, a firm of seedsmen who used it as a warehouse. This came to an abrupt end when, in 1864, the river was embanked and the warehouse landlocked, following which it was turned into accommodation and Gordon’s wine bar began its life. Rudyard Kipling lived in the building in the 1890s as a tenant and famously wrote “The light that failed” in the parlour above the bar, the building is now named Kipling House. Angus Gordon who set up the bar in 1890 was one of the few remaining “free vintners” who were able to set up and sell wine anywhere without applying for a license as a result of Edward III’s Charter to them in 1364 – granted as a result of his financial embarrassment at being unable to repay a loan made by the Vintners to him some years earlier! The current Gordon family who own the bar are not actually related to Angus Gordon but it was a happy coincidence that Luis Gordon discovered the bar and took it over in 1975 so was able to maintain the Gordon name.
It’s a bit better than a Wetherspoon’s pub!
After only a few hours sleep we were up bright and early (on a Sunday!!!) to head of to east London and the Columbia Road flower market. We were not looking for flowers in particular, it’s just a great place to wander around and soak up the sights. Columbia Road is not just a flower market though. It’s one of the few streets in England that has up to 60 independent retailers. There are art galleries, delis, vintage clothes shops and much more. After squeezing past the hoards of people (it gets busy!) and stopping off for coffee and cake in one of the many quaint coffee shops, we headed over to Spitafields market another London institution.
We browsed the stalls to our hearts content with no rushing about and with no intention of buying anything. It was a typical Sunday feeling. We came across a retro Fish & Chip shop near the market with the waitress’ in 50’s style clothing. It was very cool with very good Fish & Chips.
As the day wore on, mates came and left as we wandered around Brick Lane & Shoreditch. We stopped off in a pub called The Owl & The Pussycat for a few hours of drinking real ale, chatting, laughing and sheltering from the rain. It seemed like the whole city was buzzing but then, it always does.
We ended the night in Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club (the upstairs bit) where we went to see some Jazz Poetry. It was a lot better than it sounds. Basically it was modern poetry on more modern themes like Sexuality, Work/Life balance and the Robot Dance (I am not kidding).
It was a great weekend, one that only cities can offer. We love being by nature but we also love the variety a big city like London offers us. The trick is to appreciate what’s on your doorstep.
How was your last weekend? Let us know in the comments below. Until next time.
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Have a great weekend.
Peace & Love,
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