Today’s post is about both nostalgia and looking forward, brought to you in partnership with Hotels.com.
It’s been almost three months of England’s third lockdown and now, finally, the end is tantalisingly near. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like it’s surreal to be making plans again, after endless weeks of rotating between work, the sofa and the same three walks. But along with hoping I’ve not lost every ounce of social skills during the dark, chilly void of winter, I’ve been looking back on some of my favourite memories of 2020 and it turns out some of the moments I loved most were the most ‘normal’ things pre-pandemic.
With some of my best friends living in London and Edinburgh, these months of enforced separation have made me appreciate those weekend breaks even more than before. Luckily, I managed to get two trips to London in during 2020 – one at the start of the year and the other during the summer, where normality looked a little different with social distancing and masks still in place. I can’t wait to relive some of this joy again so today I’m writing about just that; all the activities I can’t wait to do in London after that elusive June 21st date.
I’m so partial to a food market. Busy and often overpriced? Maybe but I just can’t get enough of the energy, the mouth-watering smells and best of all, the ability to get your fix of everything in one place. Want pasta to start followed by a West-African main? No problem. Last year, I spent an afternoon at Maltby Street market drinking Estrella with a delicious Vietnamese Banh Mi and it instantly became one of my favourite places in London.
Another open-air classic is Camden Market, perfect for those sunny summer days where you can laze next to the canal while you choose your next course. Their desserts are always a joy but last time I went carb-heavy with indulgent pasta from The Cheese Wheel. Pure, rich bliss. On rainier days, I’ll be making a beeline for Borough Market (Padella and Bread Ahead are still high up on my list of places to try) or Elephant & Castle’s Mercato Metropolitano.
Sunny days are the best no matter where you are but sunny days in London are really something special. Along with so many of us, I have an even bigger appreciation for our outdoor spaces after the last year and not just the spectacular countryside we have in Britain. As lockdown eased, even sunbathing in my local park with friends was a treat and it’s no different in London.
From deer-spotting in Richmond Park to walking along the Thames, there’s a great view to be found virtually everywhere you go. One thing I’d never done before though was swim in London but this finally changed in 2020 with a dip in Hampstead Heath pond. Previously, my only UK dips consisted of the coastline around North Wales so brushing past leaves in murky pond water was different but surprisingly delightful. If you’re after a wholesome spring-summer activity, I’d highly recommend it.
You’re more likely to find me in Converse than heels on a night out but after a year living in leggings, I’m craving the opportunity to dress up a little. Luckily there’s no shortage of places to do that in London and one bar I’m craving a trip back to is Archer Street, a brilliant venue with live performers and silent disco nights.
For us lot on a budget, getting fancy doesn’t always have to mean expensive. Eat Out to Help Out also gave us a taste of the finer things last year when we bagged lunch at The Ivy for just £10 – I’d love a round two of that, thanks Rishi. In Liverpool, I love walking around the Georgian Quarter admiring the old houses and parts of London are even better. Any time I find myself around Marylebone, Mayfair or Chelsea, I’m straight on Rightmove eyeing up their crazy beautiful properties at equally crazy prices.
Eating & drinking
Food is one of my greatest joys so it’s inevitable that it would spring up more than once in this article. With restaurants closed and finances tight, I’ve been cooking more than ever in the last twelve months but nothing will every replace the excitement of going out to eat for me. As much as I’ve gained a lot of satisfaction from learning some new dishes, somebody else doing the hard graft is fine by me – especially when it usually tastes far better than anything I can create.
Trying to name all the places I love to eat in London is impossible. It’s home to some of my favourite chains like Rosa’s Thai and Doughnut Time along with thousands of independents: you could eat out every meal for a year and barely scratch the surface. Last year, my highest rated picks were brunch at 11 Pimlico Road and Pergola, a stunning rooftop bar crafted from the Instagram dream of plants and fairy lights. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; you could string fairy lights along the most grim alley and I’d probably think it looked cute.
So that’s it: the most normal of blog posts dedicated to all the normal things I can’t wait to experience again. Most importantly for me though, it comes down to the people you’re sharing it with. Knowing that we can’t just see the closest people in our lives at any time is really tough but I have confidence it’ll make the good times coming for us all in 2021 even sweeter. I can’t wait.
This post was created in collaboration with Hotels.com but all views are my own. All activities mentioned should be undertaken in accordance with current government guidelines – stay safe lads.