I love London.
I always have, ever since we spent a weekend there when I was sixteen, in the middle of a heat wave, and my brother and I were able to explore parts of it alone for the first time. I moved there as soon as I graduated university, and lived there for another three or four years. I organised events all over the city, stayed in some of its best hotels, drank champagne in some of its landmark locations. I spent weekends exploring, visiting pubs and shops and museums and galleries. If I could live in any city in the world, I’d live in London.
But, there’s a caveat to that.
The thing about London is, unless you live and work right in the centre of it, you do spend a lot of time travelling in and out, and deciding that actually you’re too tired to traipse in to go to that show tonight, and maybe you’ll just go home to bed instead. And now, with a small child and a husband who hates the idea of living inside the M25… I don’t imagine I’ll ever move back there. And I’m not sure I’d want to, really. I like having space, and fresh air, and parking and such.
Which doesn’t mean I don’t still love to visit, as often as I can.
Yesterday, the three of us went in to meet my parents for the day. This was the daughter’s first proper train trip, and her first proper central London visit that she’ll actually remember. She has a London play set and a story book about London, so she knew exactly what she wanted to see while we were there – the big wheel (London Eye), the big clock (Big Ben) and a playground. Oh, and to go on a red double-decker bus.
I’m pleased to report that we achieved all of this and more. We took a bus tour around the City, over the river, past the Tower of London and back along to Westminster. The daughter got to admire the Eye and Big Ben before we pottered over to St James’s Park to see my favourite things in London – the Pelicans. My father tells me that two of the St James’s Pelicans belong to the Queen and have their wings clipped so they can’t leave. The third? Just pops by to visit every now and then.
After a play in the sandpit, and finding several of the eggs on the St James’s Park Easter Egg hunt, we even got to go and have tapas for lunch, before we headed home. All in all, a very excellent day.
But all that walking around the city got me thinking. Maybe it’s time to set a book in London. And I’ve got some really good ideas for locations, and plot… But first, revision! I need to get this book finished and submitted before I can start anything new. No matter how tempting it is…
So, what about you? Are you a City Mouse or a Country Mouse?