This is me stepping in Bridget Jones’ footprints with mornings that sound like vrooming cars over Stevie Wonder’s ,,Isn’t She Lovely”.
Seriously, I am so happy smiling like a child from ear to ear. London, here I come!
Opening the front door of our city apartment in Kensington, I stepped right into the vibrant city life: A stream of women wearing pencil skirts and men wearing collared shirts were passing me by at the door step, wrapping their jackets around themselves just a little tighter as the sun had not yet crawled above the slated rooftops. The warming smell of freshly roasted coffee hung in the brisk air: a blend from the small French bakery across the street – which had made croissants and scrambled eggs their specialty besides coffee – Café Nero and the Starbucks near the Kensington underground station.
I have never really seen myself living in a big city. But at this moment, at the concrete doorstep, I felt that anything would be possible and I was just one step away from jumping into big city dreams to happen….
The cosmopolitan city welcomed me with its arms wide open.
I have to admit, I had quiet a hard time telling who was in fact from London and who wasn’t. Even going by the accent, it was hard to tell whether the person in front of me is a Londoner or not. The true Londoner test is crossing the street: While tourists tend to wait at red stoplights, Londoners see the traffic light more as a suggestion. –Thank you, but no thank you. In fact, just today, my husband and I were waiting at the red stoplight and an Englishman on his scooter waved us across with a friendly You can just go. –The traffic light still signaling to wait.
After a Lebanese breakfast at Comptoir Libanais we walked through the streets of Victorian brick houses. Cooing pigeons overlooked the streets from the rooftops and any hidden corners in the wall; Sometimes, flying low across the yards. The cutesy shops decorated with bows of blooming spring flowers drew the romantic portrait from a Jojo Moyes novel.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
Have you ever fed a squirrel? As I was holding out a piece of food, the little playmate with its puffy tale hopped closer, sat on its back paws begging with its round, dark eyes and clutched my finger with its tiny claws to take the food. It ate it chewing loudly. My heart was melting away. (Like do you know how some people just find a new born baby just a little too adorable? Suddenly their voice jumps way too high and they are in a state where grown up words don’t exist and their hands just can’t stop touching that little munchkin face? Well, that’s how I got in that exact moment.) This small fellow immediately had me under its spell as I kept reaching into my bag for more food. Can you blame me? At that moment, I was immediately in love with Hyde Park.
Since it appeared that the main characters in my books always go for a pleasant afternoon stroll in Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens, eventually these places made it immediately as on my number one sight to see for this trip. Now, having been there –Finally, after my third time in London! – I feel like I finally understood the city’s charm. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved it, hence I was going back, but I am sure that now I am in love with it.
To be completely honest, it’s not that there is anything special to see in particular: large plots of grass and shady trees that must have fought the moody weather for centuries. So it’s not like you need to take a selfie with every straw of grass and show your friends. It’s mainly where the locals hang out and go for a jog. (Shout out to all you Londoners! I am so impressed with your outside fitness routine. You definitely gave me the motivation I needed to grab my trainers and go running myself!)
What I love about these parks is that they tingled my nerve for appreciating the world we live in.
I remember riding the bus into London and seeing all the cars driving on the left side. You have to know that the first time I saw that, I was so freaked out about how the small things can make a big difference to me. Well, and this time, it didn’t feel weird and exciting to me. It was about as interesting as a floppy piece of toast. Had I turned numb? Is this what growing up feels like?
Being there gave me a little bit of myself back as I appreciated every second being there. Like all 18 000 seconds I spent there. That’s quiet a bit of appreciation. This year –so far at least- I spent my happiest moments there, watching the puppies play and chase each other and little baby ducks waddling to the pond. Did you know that there are even wild parakeets in the parks? If you bring some sunflower seeds, they will spread their neon green wings, land on your arm and eat right out of your hands.
London, I miss you. I am sure, in another lifetime, I am an English woman.