When a man is bored of London, he is bored of life, said Samuel Johnson, who obviously did not experience London living like a modern day dweller. I came to London seven years ago. The bright lights called me away from sunny Sydney, Australia, with promises of excitement, romantic rendezvous, and excursions to nearby European cities. I was filled with anticipation. No one can deny there is a buzz about London. It is filled with a charm that is difficult to replicate anywhere else. And charm me is what it did.
London is a diverse city to live. It is both chaotic and calmness in one. It hankers after your soul, while simultaneously driving you away; like the bad boyfriend that you keep going back to for more. London is like marmite. I love the buzz of London. I love the freedom; to be real. There is a certain authenticity about it. The city has so much culture, so many people from all walks of life. Even after seven years, I find something new and interesting to explore. But like all small town girls, the buzz of London began to wear off. The daily commute in itself was an arduous task. I needed some tranquility. I needed a haven.
Cutty Sark is based in South East London. Over the years it has underwent many development projects to the point it is unrecognizable from its former days in the Docklands. Friends who grew up here have been in awe of its transformation. ‘’It has developed into a wonderful place’’, says Sue, a local landlady. “The apartments used to overlook a waste site for scrap car parts. That has all changed. The complex overlooks the river Thames now.’’ The modernization of the docklands have attracted local YUPPIES, who have flocked en masse to the area. Overnight, it developed from marsh land. It is now a hub saturated with bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, coupled with a quirky entrepreneurial vibe about it, that is, quite frankly, a remarkably quaint place; a haven away from the hub of city life. It is a place that, for the last two years, I have had the pleasure of calling home.
I have grown to love this small borough; a unique part of London that offers both the paradoxical blend of calmness and commotion; culture and natural beauty in one. As I sit writing this, sipping on my soya chai latte, overlooking the Cutty Sark Ship, a famous museum that takes precedent over the town, I am aware of the natural serenity of this little haven. It is only merely interrupted by the charming sound of international students hurriedly chatting over their Starbucks ice lattes. Greenwich brings in many tourists. It has much to offer. I often question why anyone would want to visit anywhere else.
As a local, I have become accustomed to the main tourist attractions. It is home to the Maritime Museum, Greenwich Picture House, Greenwich Park, and the fabulous local market where local designers and foodies show-reel their work, after all. Jimmy Jules’ personal designs are a fantastic take home from the hustle of this market place; simple and delicate, they are a perfect complement for any fashionista’s style. Quietly unconventional with a hint of trend, Greenwich Market has a distinctive vibe. It is, simply put, a rare little gem in the heart of Greenwich Town.
It is a funny feeling being a local and a tourist, but that is what is great about London. No matter how local you are, you are still a tourist. There is so much to do; so many new and exciting treasures popping up. Greenwich is a sanctuary of old and new. A wander into the local park with a morning coffee captures moments of beauty; one can surrender to the art of mindfulness in the quietude of the botanical gardens. Standing on top of the Royal Observatory, the view of the bright city lights of the financial district in Canary Wharf offers a stark contrast to the Old Royal Naval College, home to the film set for Les Miserables. It is a surreal moment. Seeing is truly believing.
In moments when I need to seek clarity, I often run along the Thames Riverbank. There are some industrial works taking place, but the sound of the water overrides this. There is a spot near the sandbank that offers quiet solitude to the soul. I can harness my creativity there. It is a place that neither resident nor tourist trail often.
Gym junkies and organic health groupies find similar sustenance in town. I frequent the many classes offered by Pure Gym, finishing my cycling class with a touch down at My Detox Smoothie, the local juice bar. It harbors a grand range of protein and juice blends to satisfy any alternative’s taste buds. Friday night relaxing is a glass of red at the Cutty Sark, a wonderful Georgian tavern, frequented by many urbanites after work. It has a warm, cozy feeling to it. Autumn nights are kept warm with port and a log fire, with a long summer evening dwelt overlooking the Thames. Life is fun here. It is a welcoming place lived and loved by many.
Time moves swiftly and yet stands still in Greenwich; after all, it is the place where time begins. Like all grand things, it has to come to an end. It is an end that will be heartfelt, but rewarded with the knowledge that new horizons and cities are to be explored, bringing in the expectancy of new adventure and seasons of life.
I love Greenwich. I have a fondness of its charming captivation. I hold a sense of gratitude every time I view the Thames over my morning coffee, or take a run in the park, or walk along the riverbank to see the sunset settle beyond the Shard. Greenwich has a powerful allure to it. It holds a special place in my heart.