London can have different impacts and hold different feelings for different people. I went around the office and asked a British person and an American person what London means to them, but first here’s what comes flowing back to me when the word “London” is spoken.
London Town: The chimes of Big Ben echoing at night and the swooning of the buses and taxis making the air move, twirling up the leaves around. I sit on my windowsill overlooking Brompton Road Cemetery, Briton’s oldest and most distinguished garden cemeteries. London smells of history, it smells of nit and grit and debauchery. When I think of London, Oliver Twist, Jack the Ripper, and Mary Poppins float around in my mind. I start with the old and make my way to the new every time I’m there. Most evenings whilst I lived in London, I sat on the windowsill of the 2nd floor old Victorian London Townhouse in which I lived for a year. This was the time I cherished the most, alone, watching the life of the London battery fade slowly outside.
Come morning you’d find me at The Troubadour, a coffee shop founded in 1954 as part of the London Coffee Revolution. London coffee houses in the 19th century were centers of rebellion and new music for the young and the young-at-heart – and The Troubadour seems to have kept a hold of that feeling. It was my favorite place to go and nestle with a book and watch bohemian Chelsea walk by – not to mention it was the first place in London at which Bob Dylan performed.
Come night you’d find me at The Ten Bells Pub East London in Whitechapel. This pub has stayed true to its roots and hasn’t been renovated or changed much since the 18th century. It’s nicknamed “The Jack the Ripper Pub,” as it’s said that he took his last two victims from this pub. When there, you get a feeling that ghosts of the 18th century still haunt it and I kind of loved that. I used to spend hours sitting on the torn leather couches drinking beer until the fog grew heavy outside and it was time to go home.
What I loved about London, from our American Videographer
London enamored me years before I had the opportunity to actually set foot there. When I was a kid, my Uncle John listened to The Who pretty much all the time – I think that may have been the first time I thought anything about England, staring at his posters and union jacks…except maybe after watching “Mary Poppins.” As I got older and went mad for Oasis, The Stone Roses, Ride, etc., I felt like I was born into the wrong country – I was obsessed with the music that came from England, and the shaggy-haired bell-bottomed boys who sang it.
This is still true – except it’s Led Zeppelin that comes up on my iTunes the most. It was interesting to watch the London Olympic closing ceremonies and have it confirmed that the music emanating from London – and England in general – really has moved so many people. I’ve been fortunate to visit a few times when Free People has shot catalogs there.
There’s a park across from Buckingham palace that I walked through with a friend on my first visit after taking a red-eye from the States, and there may have been nothing super-special about it, but the flowers surrounding it were so bright and truly smelled so sweet…maybe it was because I was so tired, but I swear the light looked different there. Everything and everybody had this glow…and the people, they just look COOL…obviously they sound cool. High tea at Liberty of London is so fun…and Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley are my heroes!!! And I love the flag…and Branston pickle sandwiches…
I’m lucky that Free People is now home to a few girls from London – they’re some of my favorite people and make me smile whenever they say allo.
What I loved about London, from our British Beach Designer
What do I love about London? I remember when I lived there some nights I would walk home from work to my little haven on the canal by Victoria Park and I would just smile to myself and think… “I have no money, it all went on my rent, but I am so happy right now.” I feel like London can do that to you. There is always some fun; some adventure to find; some new person to meet who is from a totally different walk of life to you; some amazing exhibition at the Portrait Gallery; a late night bike ride with a few friends to air the day away… and you go to bed at night and think, “I made it, I really did it.”
Pop Art at the National Portrait Gallery
The buzz, the lights, the signs, that cozy pub on the corner where you have met with best friends every week – same place, same time for years…. the multi culture and clash of all that… a walk through Soho on a Friday at lunchtime, the west end, the east end… the chatty cab driver when you go to get the train home at Christmas…
There is an almost “anything goes” attitude and it’s a city where you can really be yourself… a river full of fishes all swimming upstream trying to make it in the big city… The idea of exclusivity, but somehow, everyone is a part of it. The buildings, so old, with so many stories to tell that we will never know. When winter turns to spring, that’s my favorite. London has that Cockney charm…
What do you love about London?
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