I think London’s sexy because it’s so full of eccentrics – Rachel Weisz.
London is forever in my heart. First it was my home for three years, then a place I went to on the regular, and now it is one of those cities that I only ever visit for a special event. I want to change that. London is a magical city that flourishes day and night. No matter which end or borough you end up in, there is a vivacity that grabs hold of you and leaves you breathless. It also drains you. With so much to see and so many miles to walk, it’s no wonder I am still tired seventeen hours after I walked through my own front door. Like the last London Diaries, I’m writing it as part of my travel diary series.
11.25am: I arrived at London Euston after being on the Virgin Train for two and a half hours. The first thing I did was see an overgrown man with long ginger hair, wearing a long black leather coat storming towards me. He nearly knocked me off my feet. Literally. This is one of the things about long distance: everything is heightened after not seeing your partner for a while. It was time to tackle the underground (something I haven’t done in a while) and we made our way towards Aldgate/Tower Hill. What I love about visiting London is heading somewhere new in the city. It almost feels like it’s a completely different place – if you look past the same concoction of tubes, lines, colours and business – and a completely different experience every single time.
12.55am: After checking in at Premier Inn (Tower Hill) – central, good value and comfy – we wandered across the road (literally ten steps) to the local Wetherspoon’s for the classic Friday dish: fish and chips. There, we had a good old face-to-face catch up. Another thing about long distance is that you can talk and talk over phone and messenger, but it’s never quite the same as having that person in front of you to hold your hand whilst you update them on your worries and stresses and hopes and ideas. A great start to the weekend! Plus, cider was involved.
5.45pm: As the sun set, we got ready for our first night out. It wasn’t a big one. We wandered along Tower Bridge under a blanket of night sky with the city lights twinkling all around the River Thames. Cities come alive at night. Tourists and locals walked alongside us, stopping for a snap, powering through to happy hour, waiting for the weekend to begin. We mingled with them, posing for photos and getting the perfect Instagram post, because who am I, if not a sucker for creating the perfect post to reflect that moment, and show off my outfit.
6.30pm: We pretty much wanted food that was close by and didn’t cost the earth. London on a budget is a little harder than you would think. Café Rouge is a restaurant I’ve always walked past and wondered about: its red and classy interior with the tables full to the brim looked promising, as did the prices. We were led upstairs to a quieter part of the restaurant: perfect. The steak and chips were great, but not the best I’ve had and the rouge mimosa was simply bucks fizz. It still went down well. As for the dessert, the fondant au chocolat was incredible. A perfect way to end the evening.
8.30pm: Because we are not the party animals we used to be and had a full day planned for Saturday, we went back to the hotel for a bath, bottle of prosecco and bed. Plus, my feet were killing me after nearly three hours of wearing slightly higher heels than usual.
10.00am: A Premier Inn bed with its white sheets and fluffy pillows is the place to be on a Saturday morning. With a coffee in tow… yep, you read that right: coffee. It was the perfect morning with zero hangover.
12.30pm: Time for food. I wanted to go local, but something that was a little more upmarket than Wetherspoons. Google Maps to the rescue as I found Coppa Club – a restaurant and bar right on the Thames with a menu that made my mouth salivate from the word go. We wandered along the river by the Tower of London and almost immediately behind the gift shop, there it was. I knew from its exterior – glass pods, plants and fairy lights for decoration – that it was going to be amazing. We were immediately seated inside. I was surprised because it was getting busy. The drinks were poured quick. The hot chocolate was amazing… the food was even better. I got my usual: avocado and poached eggs. Oh my goodness: incredible. I could have eaten it over and over.
1.45pm: The second port of call was the place where my Valentine’s surprise would be! Whitechapel. You can imagine what it was (if the title wasn’t clue enough), but first we wandered up the street towards Brick Lane. Brick Lane is a place I have always heard about and always seen on the Instagram accounts created by the cool London girls. People up here are part of a different lifestyle: their fashion is eclectic and cool; their style is effortless and their creativity is unique. We found incredible art painted on the street walls and the Vintage Market which is a world of its own. Downstairs, there are stalls and stalls of clothes, jewellery and more. I could have spent an entire afternoon in there and spent quite a chunk of my savings.
2.30pm: What a treat! Warren paid for us to be part of the Jack The Ripper Tour. Our tour was the one with “Ripper Vision” and it had so many fantastic reviews on TripAdvisor. Johnny, the tour guide, was so engaging and a proper Ripper enthusiast. I could tell that he lived and breathed what happened on these dark, cobbled streets in the dead of night in 1888. There was a big group of us which was fun to navigate, but Johnny kept us in check. We went from the beginning: the alley where Emma Elizabeth Smith was killed, all the way through to the most horrific killing of all – Mary Jane Kelly. We wandered through the streets, stood where the majority of the victims were slaughtered (some streets do not exist any more) and learned a little more about Whitechapel itself. I came away feeling more enthusiastic about the Ripper history and wanting to know more. We will never know the identity of the true Ripper, but that is what makes his story so addictive.
8.00pm: After a quick bite to eat in the Premier Inn and a quick change, Warren and I made our way to the north of London to Chalk Farm. Roundhouse had a long line snaked down the road and around the corner, but it moved forward quickly. The cans of cider and lager scattered over the ground, absconded before the doors. People were excited, drunk and both. Roundhouse holds 3000 people and I am not surprised that Jeremy Loops could attract that capacity. He is such an incredible artist on record, and I was about to find out how amazing he was live.
11.00pm: What a performance! The two hours flew by and Jeremy Loops wasn’t just a singer, or even a performer; he was the host of an unforgettable party that people from across the globe had come together for under one roof. He sang my absolute favourite songs and had an absolute ball in doing so. You can tell that he adores his job and his music. Of course, when Waves was played, I was in my element. I discovered the song via a random ad on Instagram stories and listened to it every single day for a long time. To hear it live was a special moment, but I definitely preferred the livelier numbers because that is when the Roundhouse turned into a massive party, ending in balloons and confetti.
10.00am: Another slow Sunday morning in bed, complete with coffee and cuddles. Then, we had to admit that the weekend was coming to an end and pack up our things.
12.15pm: Once we checked out, we headed just across the street to Wetherspoons for pie, chips and mushy peas. Spoons food is always pretty decent and a good price too. It filled me right up, ready to start the third and final day of exploring London.
1.50pm: During my time at university, I always past East Acton on the District line and wondered why so many people changed at this station. Little did I know that it would be the closest tube station to Freddie Mercury’s home. Even walking through Kensington was a little breath-taking, especially on a warm, sunny day. The houses are spectacular and beautiful and tall. We continued along the quiet, clean streets and found Logan Place. And then, just around the corner was Garden Lodge, the home of Freddie Mercury which he left to Mary and her family. I was in awe, literally star struck. Here was the home of the rock frontman that I had heard my entire life, and I could never imagine what went on behind that fence, and what the family that live there now must think of Freddie’s fans coming to take photos of a brick wall and a plastic screen. To us (the fans), it is a mesmerising moment. To them, I can’t help but think it must either be funny, or weird, or just a minute part of their daily life.
2.45pm: We walked from South Kensington to Kensington Gardens, through Hyde Park, all the way to Buckingham Palace. I was happy to play tourist for the day, mingling with other tourists, capturing that photo in front of one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world and speculating, not for the first time, just how exactly the people inside were spending their day.
7.05pm: After a magical weekend, it was time to go home. Book in hand, I said goodbye to London, and to Warren too. The reality of long distance relationships: a lot of emotional goodbyes.
London was incredible as it always is and I am sad that it is behind me after spending so long talking about it, but I have incredible memories and I am already looking forward to the next trip!
Love, Faye xo