An Account of Life in London
An account of life in London, as seen through the eyes of a girl from the coast
How long do you have to live in London before you can consider yourself a Londoner? Am I a Londoner yet? I’ve been living in London for almost a year now (although it feels like only 3-4 months!), after graduating from university last summer, and I still feel like I don’t know it very well. Then again, it’s a vast city with 8 million inhabitants so one year certainly isn’t enough to do it justice.
Since I was about 15 I’ve wanted to live in London. Odd day trips to London and the occasional week here or there for short work experiences glamourised the city for me and I was desperate to attend university here. Much to my father’s relief I didn’t end up studying here and instead went to almost the polar opposite of London – the quaint city of Exeter in rural Devon, where badger-related stories routinely make the headlines due to a lack of anything more dramatic ever occurring.
So I finally made it up to London last September 2012 when I moved into a house just south of Hammersmith, in W6, and I set about like a dedicated tourist, keen to see everything London has to offer. I quickly realised that there will always be too much to see and that I’d wear myself out in a frenzied attempt to visit, see and do everything. So I’ve taken a more laidback approach now. I’m now living in Fulham in SW6 (still quite close to my first house) and what I adore most about this part of the world is the river.
I grew up on the South Coast of England and therefore miss the sea quite easily if I’m ever too far away. Don’t get me wrong, the Thames hardly evokes the drama, the beauty and the sense of perspective that the sea provides, but it’s a good substitute in the meantime. “My” part of the Thames is lovely. Looking over to the south of London, across the “border” as it were between North and South (there’s quite a divide in mentality, trust me), you see the Wetlands Nature Reserve, Barnes Common and plenty of trees lining the riverside path, with not a building in sight, apart from the boat houses, from which keen rowers and the odd sailor set off. The Thames Path is a 184 mile-long walking trail that extends from the Cotswolds in the west out to the Thames Barrier in Greenwich in the east. You can walk the entire way along the river, with only the odd detour around a building.
The river is where I go to think things over, where I get a breath of fresh air (as there’s no road along this part of the river, only a pedestrian path), it’s where I go to sunbathe in Bishop’s Park, to catch up with friends at the Crabtree Pub, to watch arty foreign films at the Riverside Studios, to nosy about through artists’ work at Palace Wharf studios during Open House London (returning this year on 21st-22nd September 2013), it’s where I go running (admittedly that only happened the once…).
This is somehow turning into an ‘Ode to the Thames’, which wasn’t my intention I promise.
In short, I love my corner of London. I feel like I know it well. This corner of London certainly feels like home for now. I’m not sure “London” as a broader concept of 1,570km2 and 8 million people feels like home yet, as there is so much that I haven’t yet explored. So no, I wouldn’t call myself a ‘Londoner’. But I would however say that I am a SW6-er or ‘Fulhamite’, as we’re apparently called. (SW6 is the postcode for this corner of London, the SW standing for south-west). Fulham and SW6 isn’t an area a tourist is likely to visit and it has quite a nice residential/village feel to it, full of independent cafes and restaurants, plenty of parks, in particular Parson’s Green and the Hurlingham Club which are both lovely spots. The whole area has more of a village ambience, starkly contrasted against Central London which in comparison is a blur of crowds, car horns and flashing lights.
In reality I haven’t actually written about London at all in this post, so there’ll need to be a sequel to this where I extend my gaze and give you an insight into the rest of the city and what else I’ve been upto over the past 12 months living here, in one of the most popular and idolised cities in the world.