The summer is over and the tourists are gone. There are no more queues to get into the museums, no more street hawkers, food stalls or al fresco dining. They have all gone back to their real lives, with their collection of photos and train tickets and attraction receipts.
The weather has turned and the city is mine again.
London is a city which revels in the rain. Cold sheets, pitter pattering against your hood. Light reflecting off puddles that collect in the cobblestones or broken pavements. Buildings shining, inviting. Chatter leaking out of full-up pubs, laughter steaming up windows covered in little droplets of water.
The rain divides people. Some people don’t see the magic – they only see the grey skies, feel their cold fingers and dream of running away to a tropical islands. Not me. I love walking around the dark streets when it’s only 5pm,and hearing the clunk of my shoes echo down cold alleyways. I love the isolation that the cold brings, with everyone wrapped up in scarves, hats, jumpers and coats. Nobody lingers or stops to talk on the street any more. Everyone is cold, focused, trying to get home.
It’s not quite Christmas yet. In a few weeks the whole city will be tinsel, carols, optimism and baubles. The shop windows will be filled with plastic polar bears, and the tourists will come back. They are here now for the markets, the beer, the pantomime and the shopping. We, us Londoners, will indulge them – smile ironically as they queue for the musicals and cram into small Covent Garden boutiques. They are happy, and that’s fine.
I love Christmas too – mulled wine and fingerless gloves, glitter and mince pies and wrapping paper. I made the Christmas cake last weekend, and next weekend it’s the pudding and the cranberry sauce. I am excited for the parties, the cocktails, the carols and good cheer. I want to hang out with my family and friends by a warm radiator and watch the Dr Who Christmas special.
But right now, this month, I love walking around my city, seeing the light glance off the puddles and feeling very much at home.
What about you? Are you loving the cold or dreaming of Australia?
Until next time xx