Living in London has been fun and whilst there have been many interesting sights to see (and therefore photograph for this blog), there have been many experiences that do not lend themselves to a photo. Here are a few…..and as I write these, I realise that many of these do not require necessarily the location of London to experience but only the openness to enjoy the many small joys in life.
The biggest complaint about the UK is always the weather. I suspect that it’s only because it is a safe topic of conversation. Whilst it is sometimes cold, grey and drizzly, this is offset but a good number of blue sky days. There is nothing better than making it through a cold, grey winter only to be greeted with the warmth of a sunny spring day. Londoners love these good days as all green spaces become filled with people and their impromptu picnics. Londoners just love to lie in the sun and their appreciation and gratefulness for good weather is almost palpable.
It is the contrast that makes the coming of spring and then summer so sweet. The feel of the sun on your bare arms after months of wearing coats. The feel of a cool breeze on a sweltering hot day. It was a similar phenomena in Darwin when the first drier, cooler breezes of the oncoming dry season caress your skin after a hot, humid and unbearably sticky wet season.
Following on from the weather is the joy and interest in the changing seasons. Seeing the spurts of new green growth on trees, the flowering bulbs adding pops of colour in the most unlikely places and now, in summer, the wild, glorious, tangle of vegetation in the flower beds as plants hurry to seed before the next winter. A surprise has been how each of the flowering bulbs take their turn to shine and the landscape can change from week to week. The magic of evolution at play.
The feeling of community is something which sustains us but is impossible to translate into a photo. Whether it is hanging out with friends or sharing a meal, or perhaps finding a common mindset amongst new acquaintances, it is always fulfilling. One way in London to find like-minded people is to use MeetUp. There are lots of events organized each week to suit whatever your interest. There are so many people in London, you will surely find others with similar interests. Go forth and find your tribe!
Kindness and community also seem to go hand in hand. On Olio, one is surrounded by a community of people who are frugal, who dislike waste and who can see utility even in the most mundane items that others might throw away without a second thought. When an Olio pick-up is arranged, you inevitably find yourself in contact with lovely people who are willing to make a little extra effort to avoid putting useful items in the thrash.
The Joy of Public Infrastructure
This may seem silly but good public infrastructure is a key factor that drives how livable and therefore lovable a city is. London does not have the absolute best public infrastructure but it is pretty darn good. The public transport whilst not excellent is frequent and clean. There are some segregated, dedicated cycle pathways, the pavement is in reasonably condition and there are public rubbish receptacles. There are lots of lovely areas of calming greenery dotted around and some very large parks as well. These places provide a rejuvenating sanctuary amongst the hustle of city life. There are arty sculptures and statues around, park benches, water features and free events. Crime occurs but it does usually mostly feel very safe. London could be improved with provision of more public toilets.
Nevertheless, there are plenty enough usable, clean public infrastructure to make London a great city to live in and to enjoy life.
Discounting all the essential bits of public infrastructure like public toilets and park benches, my favorite type of public infrastructure are those water features that shoot up from the ground. There is nothing better than hearing children squeal with hilarity at the jets of water that squirt up unexpectedly from the ground. There is nothing better for kids or adults on a sweltering day!
The Buzz and the Energy!
How do you capture the buzz and bustle of a city in a photo? Even if an aspect of it could be conveyed, the presence of it simply cannot be felt. It’s dynamism, the energy of the people in the streets, the vibe of the place. Similarly, it is not possible to truly grasp the magic of the theatre, to feel the energy and sheer awesome talent of the performers without being physically present.
Many of these aspects might be available where you live. These are things to be mindful of, appreciated and grateful for. As for the London specific buzz, perhaps you need to visit to feel it for yourself!