Always Look Up

I have been getting to know London.

I didn’t think that I had anything to write about, as I haven’t had any epiphanies this week (!); but there is this.

I didn’t see the City last time I lived here. This time I can’t look hard enough.

I am determined to not get lost again so I have been walking myself into the streets. Setting out with trainers and my iPod and one rule: always look up. Fitting this piece next to that one and seeing that this road joins in here. Sitting on the bus with my phone map and mentally adding the buildings in as we go by. This is that place they were talking about and this is where I will come when I want to do xxx. I have been photographing the bits I will return to, like a tourist, and noting down the addresses for a rainy day.

I catch my bus from the Thames in the morning. If I squint the cars out, the wrought iron lampposts make me feel like we’re back in a different time. “Unreal City. A crowd flowed over London Bridge” and all that. I am getting used to the planes breaking the night; and how London awakens as the darkness draws back. How the City is all clean and shiny in the morning, and how sleepy people emerge until the day suddenly tips into action. It is just like Eliot wrote, though far more cheerful. The references are anchoring me.

On Sunday we walked the Southbank. Unexpectedly; and because you should never waste a sunny winter’s day. From Waterloo to the slanting slope up to St Paul’s; along the narrow alleys that are seeped in history; past the Tower of London and a tiny set of ancient windows that have imprinted themselves in my head, complete with a Tudor woman tipping a bucket of water out of them.

I have a hundred questions. What’s that building? When was that built? What happened there? It is annoying for anyone who is with me but I can’t keep them in. I am curious about life again, I think.

The sun was setting over the Thames as we walked back. The city shone, sparkled with lights. Canary Wharf to the East before the river curved, a pinky red glow over London Bridge. It took my breath away. I do not want to disappear again, and I do not want these moments of amazement to stop.


14 responses to “Always Look Up

  1. Awesomeness 🙂

    I am thoroughly obsessed with the tops of buildings in London. A combination of WWII bombing raids and some interesting architectural decisions means that you can find some striking contrasts between 16th century churches and 1980s glass-fronted monstrosities. I love to walk “The City” in my lunch hour with a camera in search of things to draw.

    I’m glad you are enjoying it love. I don’t think you can disappear unless you choose to. As long as you are noticing London, it will notice you right back.


    • I like that idea 🙂 The contrasts are surprising (and sometimes disturbing) and I guess that’s why I’m
      enjoying it so much. There’s always something new to see or a different angle. 🙂

  2. I hope that this is how I experience Paris at some point in the (hopefully near!) future. I went there when I was ill and regret not being able to truly experience my surroundings. I’m also hoping to remember this when I visit China next month for work. Yes, I am scared of travelling and no, I don’t like to be away from my partner for more than a couple of days. Yet these experiences don’t come again, and I think I owe it to myself to try and enjoy and make the most of it.

    • Wow. China. That sounds great. I guess the reason I notice it so much is because of the contrast so I’m not sure I regret it so much as am determined to appreciate every minute now. Maybe it’ll be the same with Paris?

  3. I adore London and just wandering through it. Since I live outside London but work in the Centre I don’t get to see as much of it as I would like. But now that there are huge mess-ups on the Tube I’m getting the bus and just love it so much! This city is infuriating and infatuating in equal measure. 😉

    • “infuriating and infatuating” totally. I am more of the latter at the moment but I’m amazed how many emotions it can evoke and the effect it has on me. That it encapsulates so many times and so many differences and so many stories.

  4. I love that. Always look up. I did the same on the roadtrip, kept my eyes open, looked up, down, side, didnt want to miss a thing. It is amazing taking this experience and making sure you soak it all in. I just wish I could trick my mind into being able to fly for that long to get there to visit 🙂

    • The ‘always look up’ thing was a piece of advice I was given before NY; and I’m trying to apply it over here too. I make the most of places when they’re a “holiday” but ignore what’s on my doorstep. Or did. I guess the principle translates xx

  5. After I came back from living in the Middle East, I realised that although I looked around, I was careful to avoid looking at people, so I didn’t attract unwanted attention. It took me a while to re-learn how to people watch, but now I love it all the more! (Sorry, a little off-topic)

    • Not off-topic. I think part of the reason I missed so much before was because I was always looking down or avoiding eye contact. I was in my own not very nice world. I think this is why these experiences mean so much to me. I feel part of rather than outside, if that makes sense. xx

  6. So cool! In terms of discovering and being curious about your surroundings you’re definitely lucky to live in London. 🙂

    It’s great to read this and lines like “I am curious about life again, I think.” The point is that you can always learn and find amazing things if you open your eyes and approach things with an inquisitive perspective. On with the adventure, enjoying things and looking up… 😀

    • It’s the curiosity thing that has struck me. There’s so much I want to cram in now and an interest in the world that wasn’t there before. I am lucky re London but I guess curiosity can often open up places and perspectives. Hoping to always be curious in the future xx

  7. Love. This. Post. You are awesome and I want to come visit. 😉

  8. YES! Please do 😉

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