Sometimes I’ll just pause in the airport or a train station, and simply watch the world go by. Usually armed with headphones and sunglasses that obviously render me invisible, I won’t stare, but I love people watching in London through bite-size glimpses and making up all kinds of tales that are completely improbable.
As I type this, it’s almost rush hour at a busy London station, and a very sweet middle-aged man stands waiting just outside the ticket barriers. Dressed in denim and a timeworn leather jacket, his salt and pepper hair is combed just so and his shoes are shined perfectly.
Did you know that London is the greenest major city in Europe and the third greenest city of its size in the world (officially)? Well, it is, and it has so many beautiful spaces where the city gives way from cold architectural structures to thriving green lungs that give us city-dwellers respite. Selecting the best London parks and gardens for this post was a job I adored taking on.
Oh, and they are wonderful places to party, to picnic and to just get away from it all.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” —Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The wizarding world of JK Rowling has inspired millions, if not billions of imaginations around the world – and it all came from an idea she had on a train journey. The House of Minalima here in London showcases some of the incredible graphics of the franchise, and it’s well worth taking a wander into.
Whether you want to be a wizard, or not.
I’m slightly obsessed with picnics. The tiny sausage rolls, dappled sunshine, bubbled beverages, a blatant disregard for tables, communal pots of hummus, relaxed laughter and did I mention miniature scotch eggs? As the seasons turn, I’m already planning a little dining en plein air – so thought it was only fair to share 9 of the best secret picnic spots in London that I’ve found so far!
I’m someone who used to keep a picnic blanket under her office desk (for sunshine emergency situations you understand), when I went freelance I bought my phone plan specifically so I can use it as a laptop hot spot in blossoming gardens and I may or may not have a bottle opener on my key ring. Case in point: my autumnal picnic above – I’ll take literally any excuse to unroll one of my many picnic blankets.
Does life get any better than an evening spent in Kensington Palace Gardens? I adore London. It’s a refrain that I’ve sung endlessly for the years that I’ve lived in in England’s capital, but many people seem to question this as it’s a city. But, it’s a green, green city that has pockets of flora (and the occasional fauna) which makes all the difference. Take for instance a sunny afternoon a while ago that a few friends and I decided to cancel our plans of going to the cinema, and picnicking in the park instead.
It was all very last minute on a Friday. At 12.20pm, one of us messages to confirm our cinema date. By 12.32pm we had binned that thought entirely (we hadn’t gotten around to booking the tickets anyway) at the mention of the picnic blanket that I keep under my desk for emergency sunshine occasions, and arranged to convene at High Street Kensington Station as soon as we could sneak away from our screen-based obligations.