london pt 2
I finally got the British Boy and his city all to myself on the Monday following my arrival. We spent most of the day walking around London, a city I instantly fell in love with from the very first moment I saw it two years ago and which never ceases to amaze me. The way it feels like a symphony one minute and a drum & bass beat the next. The way the oldest buildings house the trendiest shops. The way the flowers stay in bloom throughout the winter and swans glide down the canals and the way footsteps on sidewalks echo what they might have sounded like one hundred years ago. North America is such a young continent, an infant on civilization’s scale and though Montreal has its Old Port (which is the closest anyone will come to that European feel in North America), it does not compare to the history in which London is steeped.
So Monday, we explored. Joe showing me parts of town, me showing him others, us discovering new things together. Favorite Monday moments include:
- Getting our photos taken in London’s oldest analogue photobooth (we laugh about how he looks a bit bad ass like Bruce Willis in Die Hard in one of the shots).
- Lunch at The Book Club. Followed by a great game of ping pong, which I lost by a landslide (what can I say, I’m an air hockey kinda gal).
- All the stories he told me on our long walk towards St-Paul’s cathedral, my cold hand tucked into his warm pocket. Stories he’d read, stories he’d heard, stories from his childhood or recent past, historical and architectural facts. I’m a sucker for a story and he sure can tell a good one. Peas and carrots, we are.
- Ducking into Dose for the best espresso in town and ginger Guinness cake (which is quickly becoming my favorite English dessert).
- Stumbling upon St-Bartholomew’s, a dark 12th century church, which is my kind of church. Much more impressive than St-Paul’s in my mind, proving once again my attraction towards all things from the other side of the tracks. The squeaky clean never did do much for me.
- Walking along the Thames by night, all the boats lit up with fairy lights reflected on the water below, inviting us to don our smartest suit and cocktail dress for a night of champagne by the piano. All terribly romantic and sending me into a bout of pre-nostalgia for the New Year that I won’t ring in with him.
- Sharing a bottle of wine and a bowl of olives in the dark cavernous belly of Gordon’s Wine Bar, where I left a little surprise under a table for a friend last year. Save for the iPhones on every table, Gordon’s always transports me to a time when oil lamps would have surely hung from the low ceilings and perhaps the only women around would have been licentious ladies of the night, drunk on whiskey and wearing frilly under skirts, tie up boots, white powder on their bountiful breasts and rouge on their lips. By the time we empty our last glass, people are piling in and eyeing our table like hungry hawks.
- Sushi and sashimi and all things good at Yoshino, where Joe used to bring his dates. He said he hoped I would be the last woman he brought there. I said, I damn well hope so too.
- Months before arriving, as a surprise, I booked tickets to see The National. This was our first show together and since most of you know about my little music addiction, you can imagine that it was pretty special for me. There is nothing quite like hearing England sung live in London. It has even more significance now. That’s the thing about music, isn’t it? Its ability to bring you right back to a moment, so vividly.
- The view of the city from his flat in the morning and in the evening. Not only is it lovely, partially clouded by the big conifers, but it grounds me into the present moment, reminding me that I am there and to pay attention because soon… it will all be over.
Next post… in which he takes me to Paris for the night.