Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

What can you say about London?


Maybe it’s because I live on a small island, which boasts only two cities (which are so close together that really they are one) that I seem to write more about the countryside or the coast – simply, there is more coast and more mountains than there is city life. It isn’t that I don’t like cities.  Often I ache for the energy of a big city.

What’s left to say about London? Honestly, what can you say about London which hasn’t already been said?  I have friends who loathe cities, London included. Me? I love ’em. I love cities, but in a totally different way to the way I love the mountains and the coasts.

I’m a slave to the beauty and the majesty of ocean, mountains, sky and trees, but there is  vitality and zest in cities, which comes from the rubbing together of so much humanity, the pooling of their enthusiasms and enterprise. If I go to Nature for renewal, to wind up my mind and energy, and then the city uses and drains it,  and there is a satisfaction in that being drained too.

Whilst I prize solitude in the countryside, if green spaces in the city are thronging with people I prize the variety and energy that produces also. So a walk in Hyde Park the other week, though beautiful, bursting with the new growth of Spring and easy on the eye, was filled with people too; people walking, running, skating, skateboarding, cycling, sitting, strolling, eating, reading and enjoying the warmth of the sunniest March I ever remember.


Look closer at the picture above. At the bottom of the wall you can see swans building a nest. In the midst of folk rambling about, kids shouting and the general cacophony of man they were serenely going about their task, apparently oblivious to all else around them.

On the other hand, in other parts of the park’s animal kingdom, not all was so serene, there was definitely some vying for attention going on!

And the warm weather brought an additional surprise for me – this is the first time in over 25 years that I’ve seen bluebells.

And whilst I was surprised that the craze for gelato seemed missing in Britain’s capital, the Mr Whippy went down a treat! Is there anything quite like it on a hot day? :=)



Author: IslandMomma

Exploring island life and the freedoms of Third Age: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

10 thoughts on “What can you say about London?

  1. Can’t wait to take my boyfriend to London. He’s so gonna love it! Been there 4 or 5 times and every time I like it even more! It’s a city full of wonders 🙂

  2. By one of those odd laws of the universe I’ve probably gotten to know London better since I didn’t live in England than when I did! I always find something new or something many years forgotten. When are you planning to go? The only thing I would mention is that I’m staying away over the Summer, when the Olympics are taking place! It will heaving, but right now they are doing lots of renovations, so afterwards it will be even better :=)

  3. Gorgeous photos! I’ve never been to London, but I will get there some day.

  4. As the song says: “maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner …” that I hate London town 🙂 Well, growing up there in the 1960’s I loved it – but then it was for sure the best place in the world to be a teenager. Sometime in my late 30’s I fell out of love with the crime, noise, and lack of parking spaces that cost less than a small mortgage. We moved to the countryside, and then the sea, and haven’t lived in a city since (St. Cruz is OK for quick visits once-in-a-while).

    When Samuel Johnson said: “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” he probably hadn’t had to travel on the Northern line in the middle of a heat wave !

    I used to live near Hampstead Heath and my spot will always be the top of Parliament Hill. We used to go up there at night – you can see most of the city spread out below you. It’s where Guy Fawkes was going to watch Westminster go up in smoke. We used to imagine the effect of a nuclear strike hitting the city … that seemed to be the imminent future in those days.

    • Richard – and mamma -I lived for 35 years in Gospel Oak and the Heath was where I grew up with my girls, where we swam in all of the ponds, (the big council pool was my backyard,) where we walked up to the top of Parliament Hill and over to Kenwood somedays, where I pushed the babies in their prams, and where a flasher dashed out from behind a bush one day and I just laughed, where we snowboarded down from the top on tin trays in the winter…..where we watched cricket in the shadows of a late afternoon, .I could go on and on…And I could write a novel about the Northern Line! But now…..well I have just come back to this island of Mamma’ s from visiting my grandchildren who still live in North London. And somethings remain the same and some change, for the worse. It still is the City I grew up in and the City I loved, but now it is for the tourists. And for the very young and the very wealthy.

      • What lovely memories. Life is a constant state of change. Every day brings change. Sometimes we like it, sometimes we don’t. “Tourists” are almost everywhere these days. Travel can be so cheap and easy, and so many of us have a huge desire to see as much of the world as we can. I’ve been disappointed (very much so sometimes) when I’ve revisited places I saw when I was younger, and they were quieter and more accessible. Every time I go back somewhere and find a mass of visitors I remind myself they have as much right to be there as I do, but sometimes it’s SO hard!

    • LOL, Richard – wonder what Johnson would make of it now? People are fond of quoting him when admiring London, but don’t stop to question that! I just love that buzz which London has. It’s not the only city which has it, of course (just where I happened to be the other week), it really gets to me, but I don’t know how it would be living with it from day to day. I love the variety too. I love Santa Cruz, and compared with El Médano of course it’s a city, but it doesn’t have that “buzz” but naturally it wouldn’t. Nowhere here has because the rhythm of life is so different, as is the attitude.

  5. my last visit to London was curtailed by last summer’s riots. for the first time I saw a very ugly side to the city and felt truly scared. fortunately the young faceless (feral) mob left our bus alone and carried on down the street towards the stores they would be looting. they are still being prosectued for what they did even now. I know they are a product of their environment and upbringing but that makes it no less scary when you are caught up in the midst of it.
    normally I love everything I experience on my frequent visits but this trip made me glad to leave. I need some time to pass before I take my next trip!

    • I remember a similar experience in Blackpool, though not a riot as such. Driving along one of those roads in South Shore which runs parallel with the Promenade on a Saturday afternoon; in the back of the car with a week-old baby; crowds surging down the street after a football match; the police looking very fragile.

      Actually, if last Summer’s riots were a symptom, of the frustration and anger with a broken system (worldwide, not just British), the feeling of helplessness and a desire to “get back” at feeble and greedy politicians and an even more greedy and corrupt banking system, then I can, actually, understand it. Football hooligans, never. Well, a bit, but way less. I’m aware that the riots were fueled and used by criminal elements, but you have to admit that they were totally predictable, as was the increase in crime, racism, domestic violence etc ….. all results of a failing economy on the grand scale, and a subsequent lack of self esteem and identity for so many……and I knew all of this back in 2008, so if I did, why didn’t politicians and why didn’t they attempt to provide for it?

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