Spitalfields

Tired of London? No. We're just tired...

580_Image_shard_london_11

As a Londoner, whenever I start planning my weekend, I slip into a reverie which goes something like this. Brunch at Caravan in the new Kings Cross development, pottering around Portobello, a trip to the Tate Modern, Selfridges, Spitalfields Market, cocktails at Claridges, the National theatre, Electric Cinema … I could go on. London may not be a bargain destination but it certainly has everything you want in terms of activity and accessibility.

Sadly reality is invariably a million miles away from my reverie. For by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m often too exhausted to do anything other than dive under my duvet.

Welcome to London life in 2014. For most Londoners, weekends are no longer about hobbies and hedonism. As Londoners we work longer hours than the rest of the UK - the number of Londoners who work 48 hour weeks has risen from 10 per cent in the nineties to 26 per cent in 2014, with 70 hours weeks now the norm -  often zig zagging all across the capital (as a freelance journo, I’m in Hammersmith on Mondays, Hampstead on Tuesdays, Harrow on Wednesdays... you get the drift).  We play harder too (what’s the point of living in the capital and working like a dog, if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a cocktail at a hip speakeasy, dinner at the latest IT restaurant or a theatre date after office hours are over?)

500jblondon2010

Little wonder then that when Saturday comes, we’re drained – both mentally and physically. This disturbing new trend is what Londoners are referring to as the Shatterday/Shunday phenomenon. We Londoners are following the 5:2 plan not just with our diets, but when it comes to work and socialising too.

For me, two days of fun has been replaced by the  supermarket shop, trip to the post office to pick up the packages that you weren’t in to  sign for, tackling the laundry that’s threatening to break free from its basket, researching and writing freelance articles, answering all the calls and emails you never got round to dealing with during the week and endless Agony Aunt sessions (aka counselling your 33-year old childhood friend who has just called off her second wedding).

Then Sunday arrives and your chores are complete but the problem is you’re spent. Subsequently you  just can’t face the thought of schlepping (thanks to the endless engineering works affecting the tube at the weekend) back into town when you know that  you’ll be spending the next five days doing exactly that.

london

So you don’t. What you do is hunker down in front of the box and binge watch Breaking Bad or maybe – energy permitting – head to the cinema. To paraphrase Tennessee Williams, Londoners are guilty – at weekends – of going “to the movies instead of moving. Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody [...], while everybody [...] sits in a dark room and watches them have them.”

Enough. With the start of Spring just around the corner (20 March), it’s time put the pep back in our step and leave wiped-out weekends, along with HEAT-TECH tops and tights, behind with winter. Who’s with me?

When a man is tired of london

10 reasons to love London

From the BAFTAs to the Brits, London Fashion Week (LFW), NME Awards and Prince popping up to play a secret gig at Camden’s Electric Ballroom, the capital was fabulous fun in February.But London is a city that looks the part all year round. Here’s 10 reasons why we love London – feel free to share your suggestions in the comment section below

autumn-regents-park-01

Park life
Thirty  per cent of the capital is given over to green space so wherever you find yourself in the city, a park is never far away.

Shangri-La-Hotel-At-The-Shard-London-Hero

The cosmopolitan mix
London is one of the most diverse destinations in the world: 37 per cent of the population were born outside the UK and over 300 languages are spoken.

500jblondon2010

Theatreland
London’s theatreland is the best in the world. Whether you want to see a straight play such as War Horse or a musical like Book of Mormon or Jersey Boys, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

DSC_3625[1]

The food scene
London caters to every pocket and palette. Blow the budget at a Michelin starred restaurant or spend a fiver at a food truck - it's your choice.

Selfridges-1024x768

Retail heaven
From Harrods and Harvey Nichols  to the shopping mecca that is Selfridges and markets like  Spitalfields and Portobello, London’s shops rock. Get ready to whip out the plastic.

street-art-facade-sponsored-nissan-tate-modern

Musuems and galleries
The capital boast some of the world’s greatest museums and art galleries. Treasures such as the Tate Modern and Natural History Museum are both free (if your conscience permits).

olympic-ting

London knows to how throw a helluva good party
Take your pick from – in recent years –  the Royal Wedding, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee or London 2012 Olympics – celebrations that were enjoyed by people all over the planet.

Notting-Hill-Carnival-jubilation

And a world class carnival
The Notting Hill carnival – aka Europe’s largest street party – takes place annually over the August bank holiday. It's a colouful riot of reggae and rum - and everyone is invited!

GZ001_33_People_in_Kings_Cross_St_Pancras_Eurostar_terminal_station_London

Escaping is easy
Should you need to leave London, it’s easy to do so. The capital is home to five international airports and the main Eurostar terminal. Paris in two hours? Yes please.

When a man is tired of london

Londonconstantly surprises
Or in the words of Samuel Johnson: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

London looks lovely in August

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).

Boundary rooftop - Long Table

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.

London

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.

lgpp31718+red-double-decker-bus-london-photography-poster

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!