Okay, I’ll admit it. London has not been all the glamour and love that I expected. There’s been a lot of grey skys… literally, and figuratively. And, as a dear friend pointed out to me, I’ve been stuck in a bit of a pity party. While yes, Canada is full of amazing beauty and dear friends and family, London is stunning in its own way. So, here is my list of what I love about London so far.
There are few places in the world where you feel so fully free to express all the quirks of who you are. Londoners fit into different distinct categories and yet no category at all. That’s the beauty of it. Everyone lives in the juxtaposition of this city. Neither traditional yet rooted deeply in tradition. Creative and carefree but reserved and down-to-earth. I love watching people and I just long to hear their stories because this city is full of the most beautiful people!
A lot of the time, the clouds in London form a thick barrier between us and the glory that we call the sun. I checked, and London gets 1500 hours of sunshine annually. Okay, so that’s not a lot. But in the evening, for that 20 minutes or 2 hours when the sun is lower in the sky, the clouds are stunning. Big, and fluffy, and riding along the wind, constantly changing. They are beautiful and definitely photo worthy. I love the clouds here!
I think I could live in London the rest of my life and still only experience 1/4 of what is going on. Maybe even less! There’s a saying by Samuel Johnson, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” and it’s most likely true. (There’s even a book dedicated to this!) There is no better place to explore all the things you enjoy and learn more about what you like. With amazing theatre, dance, galleries, parks, gyms, cycling, fields, festivals, shows, concerts, pubs, restaurants, cafes, museums, palaces, conferences, courses, and cinemas, it always just comes down to, “what do YOU want to do.” It’s really amazing. I feel like I have been given the opportunity to really define what ELYSE likes simply based on the amazing choice here. I can really do whatever I want!
Similar to New York or other amazing big cities in the world, London is full of opportunities to make your dreams come true. You have to work for it (and I’m still working on it) but in this city, I can see it! You can see people living out their own dreams and it spurs you on to keep pursuing yours. As a photographer, there’s so many magazines, newspapers, and designers always on the lookout for new talent. Not only that, but there are over 7 million people in this city, and so much history, just waiting for me to photograph it! The opportunities are there, you just have to make the effort to make it happen.
It goes without saying, but I love living in a city that has seen so much for thousands of years. And you really can sometimes recall Jane Austen’s London or the streets the Charles Dickens described or the reign of ancient kings or the footsteps of Romans. There are little reminders all over the city. I always say when I am showing friends around the city, “just imagine all the dead people you’re probably walking on!”. Morbid, I know. Absolutely fascinating, indeed! I actually saw a book recently at the Wellcome Collection that was all about all the hidden cemeteries and burial grounds around London and then had a collection of photos of what stood on those spots now. It was things like council houses and random street corners. The idea of walking over all those people gives me a thrill.
At this point, I have been in London for four months, and there are probably more things on the “what I miss about Canada” list than this one. But this list is growing. And London is home and I love calling London home.