Firstly, welcome to the new-look Starry-Eyed Travels, I hope you’ll enjoy a perusal through the site. It’s still something of a work-in-progress, so please forgive any clumsy bits that remain – by next week it should be sleek and lovely! I wondered what would make a good first post at the start of this new chapter and I found myself looking at some recent photos from London. OK, so I live 30 minutes from the centre of London; it’s hardly travelling. But over the last month or so, I feel like I’ve been looking at my fair capital with fresh eyes. Starry-Eyes, you could say…
I love it when people come to visit London for the first time, because I get to share some of their delight and it makes me notice things I usually walk past without glancing at. When Rambling Tart came to town last month, we had the opportunity to do things I don’t usually do. We took a trip to Knightsbridge, where we had a brief wander around the V&A Museum – only brief because that’s how we like to visit museums, not because it isn’t wonderful – then sipped tea and shared a strawberry tart at a darling little cafe in Knightsbridge. My trips to London usually take me nowhere near these refined streets.
Then, last week, I was in London for four days at the World Travel Market, but as is so often the way, I barely got a glimpse of the city, apart from the inside of the DLR trains and a brief sighting of Canary Wharf on the way to the Excel Centre. But, when my Mum told me she was in London and had some free time, I escaped to meet her at the One New Change Centre, a swanky-looking shopping centre right by St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s all brushed, shiny glass and sweeping architectural design and we met in a cafe. I was wearing foot-destroying heels (they were pretty, though), so when we’d had coffee and a chat, I slipped into my comfy boots and we took the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style glass elevator to the roof terrace. It was a mild afternoon for November, but the sky was wintry – cool blue, with a low sun slowlydiffusing its golden tones. Right ahead of us, St Paul’s Cathedral stood, the magical image from a childhood nurtured on Mary Poppins. I’ve walked past the cathedral many times since watching the Little Old Bird Woman on the steps in the film, but never had it looked so utterly beautiful and timeless as it did now.
On both occasions, I felt like I had managed to slip out of the usual rushing, busy London, the place where there isn’t time to stop and look, because you just have to make this train, not the one in two minutes, where people walk in resolutely straight lines, heads down, at that pace somewhere between a walk and a run. This was London at its most peaceful and beautiful – in the company of people who lift my spirit, in a crisp, clear Autumn light.