Nice Times (3)

As much as I enjoy living in the countryside now, I will always be a Londoner. This post is about some beloved memories of that city.

An intimate gig at the famous Soho Jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s. It finished late, and after the club closed we walked across the street and were lucky enough to get a table outside the iconic Bar Italia coffee bar. Sitting on the pavement, heated by patio heaters, drinking lukewarm espresso at inflated prices. Watching the world go by in London at night. And then I had a glass of Grappa. Fabulous.

Standing on an almost deserted Waterloo Bridge, very early in the morning. Facing east, looking at one of the best views in London as the sun rose behind Tower Bridge. I loved being a Londoner that morning.

An evening trip on The London Eye (big wheel by the river) for my 49th birthday. Disappointed that the thing faces the wrong way, so all you get to see is the dull stuff heading west out of London. Then we walked down to Gabriel’s Wharf for one of the best pizzas in the city, an English Breakfast on a pizza. As we ate, we laughed about what a let down the London Eye is.

A late drink in a pub in Smithfield Market. When we left, the meat traders were setting up, much as they had done for centuries. The end of our day was the beginning of theirs, and it felt just right.

Sitting in a car in a street just off Brick Lane, east London. I had driven to the Bagel Shop in the middle of the night and bought two salt beef bagels. My mouth was watering at the thought of eating them, so I sat and ate them in the car, instead of driving home first.

Visiting an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, on the South Bank. I was on my own and had enjoyed the exhibition of historical propaganda posters. I had even bought some to take home and frame for my wall. (I still have them, now stored in the loft) I bought a large glass of wine from the Festival Hall terrace cafe, and sat watching the buzz of London life by the river. It was such an enjoyable experience, I had a second glass before going home.

Meeting friends at the Mar/Terra tapas bar, off Union Street, Southwark. Eight of us enjoying many small courses and lots of wine, for as long as they remained open. The owner was from Seville, and served some of the best tapas in London. A small restaurant, always full of atmosphere. A place to feel alive in.

63 thoughts on “Nice Times (3)

  1. I loved this set of memories Pete, you gave me a spectacular taste and vision of London! I’ve never been but I have all these preconceived ideas of what it would be like if I ever get a chance to visit. I imagine living in London would be an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing, C

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    1. It is like 50 different smaller cities combined into one, each area having quite a distinct atmosphere and resident population demographic. If you ever get there while I am still around, I will come down and show you both all the ‘best bits’. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. Great enjoyable mememories, Pete! You will not believe,yesterday i had read about a priest working in our region. He originally came from Wrozlaw in Poland, had studied in Frankfurt, and now since over 20 years loves to be here in the biggest rurality ever. Sometimes i think i the desert of Arizona you will find more live than here. Lol xx Michael

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  3. You had me thinking about my few trips to the city, Pink Floyd at Earls Court, China Town, a West end show…all good reasons to visit with lasting memories 🙂
    Happy to hear you are happy a happy bunny 🙂

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  4. The world can be a more interesting place while sitting and having a glass of wine or a snack at a StreetSide eatery. It gives us time to watch instead of being part of. Sounds like you knew how to enjoy your time in London.

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  5. I may never visit London (although I hope I do) so your memories are so enjoyable to me. It’s odd to think that things we have done and experienced may never be experienced again. I really understand the bagel story. Sometimes just a few minutes changes an experience. I’m glad you ate the bagels in the car.

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    1. Thanks, Maggie. I hope you do manage to visit London one day. The history of that city would impress you, I’m sure. And if I had enough notice, I would be happy to drive down and show you both around the ‘real London’.
      (Just do it before I am too old! 🙂 )
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Terrific mémoires all, Pete…I was lucky enough to work on a project with Prince Edward for a year, and spent lots of time in London. I walked everywhere, and still crave a plate of fish ‘n’ chips from The Seashell of Lisson Grove

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    1. The Seashell is one of the most popular fish&chip shops in London. When I was an EMT in that area, they used to let us jump the queue to get our dinner. 🙂
      My cousin was in the Royal Marines when PE did his service in that regiment. I could tell you a story, but not on here!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great memories. I was born in London and regret that I never had the chance to really enjoy it. Isn’t there something special about a great city at night? Not so safe these days, I suppose but I always enjoyed being driven in the dark through a sleeping city. So atmospheric. Your descriptions evoke that feeling.

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    1. Thanks, Carolyn. Like any huge capital city, London has its dangers, and also many districts where I would not feel safe, especially at night. However, it is nowhere near as bad as some people imagine, especially if you are local, and know your way around.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That brought back a few memories Pete. I remember you took me to Mar Y Terra. What a lovely place with brilliant food.
    I once stood on the Golden Jubilee footbridge (Hungerford) at five a.m. (after a coffee and panini at Bar Italia) so that a South African girlfriend could hear Big Ben chime.
    After the fifth bong, she said “one more, one more!”
    Alas Big Bens bongs were outside my control!
    Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nice memories. I have lovely memories of concerts at the Hammersmith Odeon, visits to West End shows, flights on the London Eye, standing on the Embankment on New Year’s Eve to watch the fireworks, then on other years watching the fireworks from one of the City Clippers. A summer visit to Buck House and the museums. The list goes on and on, lol.

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    1. Many of my best memories of London were those quiet times, watching the busy world go by, though not feeling part of it. That city has so much to offer, if you know where to look.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  10. Great memories. I’m a Northerner, married a soldier so don’t really belong anywhere these days other than where the army sends us. But I love London and I get a little flip of excitement every time I visit when the train pulls into Waterloo. Do you get back to visit or are you happy just to keep the memories as they are?

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Helen. I moved away in 2012, and since then I have only been back twice. Once for a funeral, once for a wedding.
      I find London overwhelming now, as I live in a Norfolk village where a car coming down the road after dark counts as an event! But I had 60 great years in London, and lived and worked all over the capital during those years. Great memories, no regrets for having left. It is not a place to grow old in.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  11. I’m a Londoner too but unlike you I couldn’t wait to leave. I do however have some good memories: upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s where they had rock bands, walking along the river at Richmond, days in Kew Gardens and one morning early going to Covent Garden veg Market with my mother

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    1. Thanks, Sarada. Once I set my mind to retiring at 60, I knew I wouldn’t want to live in London as I got older. I never regret leaving, but have so many fond memories of my life there.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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