As regular readers will know, I have a love-hate relationship with London. To me the capital is akin to coffee. It has its perks (brilliant parks, carnivals, theatres, restaurant, museums and markets) but it can pose problems too (it’s crowded, dirty, often unfriendly andeye-waveringly expensive).
But if there’s one month when London is, like caffeine, guaranteed to pick you up and leave you wanting more - regardless of whether you are a local or a tourist - it’s August.
In August the weather is good (even if it’s raining, temperatures will be warmer than winter) and the city empties out as put upon parents venture abroad with little Johnny and Jane, once the schools have broken up. For those of us left behind, London suddenly looks... well really rather lovely. For starters you can secure a seat on the tube - believe it or not - during rush hour. It’s amazing how something as simple sitting down for the duration of your journey from home to work (for which you have parted with a fiver), will put a smile on your face. And for an avid reader like me, an added bonus is being able to pick up a fresh copy of the Metro at any hour - not just pre 8am.
And those brilliant parks, carnivals, theatres, restaurants, art galleries,museums and markets I mentioned earlier? They’re a lot less busy too,meaning you can visit without the fear of getting crushed. My friend Simi and I recently ventured to Spitalfields market which is typically crammed with customers. However last Sunday it was noticeably sleepier and we were able to browse the boutiques and stalls without being pushed and shoved around (something we’re guilty of doing too!)
Perhaps because the capital is calmer during August, people are much more pleasant. Case in point? The big boss at one of the companies I have been working at recently, has taken it upon himself to pitch up at his employees desks every Friday at 4pm, armed with a generous jug of Pimms. If he insists...
Bizarrely my brother - a teacher by trade - tends to think that I’ll be miserable about being stuck in town when so many of our friends and family are fleeing. He's sorely mistaken. More fool them is my instinctive response, for August is easily my favourite month in London. And this year is no exception: I’m enjoying t-shirt temperatures (by both day and night) and the chance to soak up my city in a more relaxed manner.
So if you’re leaving London in August, my message is this: there’s really no need to feel sorry for me and the other Londoners left behind at home. I’m still planning on following in your footsteps and frying myself silly, on a glorious stretch of golden sand - but it will be during winter when I want a break from the biting wind and months of unflattering thermal underwear, colds and chapped skin.
See you in September!