London: Part Three
It always seems to be the light I notice; maybe it's the time of the year.
In the dark hours of the morning, it was the blue glow of the bus; the sunrise seen from the airport.
When I arrived in London though, it was the smells that hit me: the incense filling the air in Dishoom, where I had hungrily made my way to for breakfast. Transported to 1930s India - all dark wood, amber lighting and a sort of soft jazz, I had the famous bacon and egg naan - sweet, pillowy, delicious and washed down with bottomless chai latte and water poured into tin cups.
After tea and cake and wandering, I made my way to Brick Lane. Colour again - this time brightly daubed on walls and metal shutter doors.
Beigel Bake and chocolates, plucked from tumbling piles, at Dark Sugars. Vendors sold everything from vinyl records to vintage clothes and street food to, well, stuff you'd probably find at the bottom of a drawer.
I made my way to the centre of the city then, determined to get my hands on a macaron ice cream sandwich from Yolkin, before they inevitably sold out in the late afternoon. And after passing St Paul's Cathedral then getting a bit lost in the streets of Soho, I did.
I hoped to catch sunset at Hyde Park, and just made it to the edge of the Serpentine as a violet glow swathed the park and the swans and ducks that flitted about in it.
Wandering through Knightsbridge on the way to my hotel (just an easyHotel number I'm afraid...) I paused to admire the glittering lights of Harrods - no wonder it's one of the most 'Instagrammed' tourist attractions in the world...
After a pizza dinner, I collapsed into bed, legs pulsating from walking across what felt like the whole of London.
Getting up early, I headed for Chelsea, for breakfast at the Good Life Eatery and my first matcha latte - an acquired taste I think.
But it was fuel for a trip to Tate Britain, a beautifully-restrained building where I saw the Frank Auerbach exhibition (sculpturally thick paint in candy-stripe swirls and earthy jagged spikes) and Tracey Emin's bed (grotty, yes, but I get it in terms of self-portrait).
After, I followed the Thames to the Houses of Parliament, which lit up under a blue sky and peeked out from trees whose leaves fell and fluttered across the park.
Once again in Soho, I found myself under the red lanterns of Chinatown, where I stumbled into a bakery selling little fish-shaped cakes: four for £2. Happily I discovered I was given five and ate them all.
Lunch was from Balthazar in the form of rosemary focaccia and a maple custard doughnut (given, I have to say, in rather nice little bags). Their latte was though (and I don't think I exaggerate) as hot as the sun, which now beamed fiercely down onto Covent Garden where I perched beside a pillar to eat.
I thought I'd go and explore the Barbican then, unaware of its enormity - and strangeness. A concrete jungle if ever there was one.
After a bit of people-watching (bratty children) and eavesdropping (hilarious) I stumbled out into rush hour as people hurried towards pubs, undergrounds and train stations. I paused at Liverpool Street looking at everyone running around, taking a moment to appreciate that I could stand still. Waiting for a bus to go out to the airport, I watched the city: taking in the colours, the sounds, the smells. And the lights.