Where did that year go…?
You wouldn’t be surprised to know that after leaving my job in the City of London in 2016, following 24 years of working for a Japanese bank, it certainly isn’t the commuting I miss.
Sharing banter with my colleagues was always good fun, and I enjoyed the lunchtime strolls along the Thames, dodging oncoming power joggers, who were taking no hostages in their wake.
However, there is something about the City of London that will always remain with me.
Two faces of the city
Some may see it just as an anonymous corporate treadmill, and from the outside, it often looks like that. From early Monday morning until late Friday evening the city is alive. But come back at the weekend, and you have walked into a completely different world.
Not a suit & tie to be seen, just eerily silent lanes, the odd black cab & shift workers passing through.
This is a great time of the week to discover those otherwise unnoticed little snippets of history and a fantastic time for photography.
But there are so many things about this square mile that make it so fascinating, and will continually bring back lasting memories for me. Of course, there are always embarrassing tales that people love to remind you of, but it also the history that can be found within such a tiny area of London.
The intriguing network of lanes that weave their way through the city. After working there so long I was still surprised with this, so many shortcuts through courtyards, alleys, churchyards & passageways.
Where are the roads?
A fascinating fact about this ‘square mile’, is that you will not come across a single ‘Road’, everything is named, Lane, Street, Hill, Court, Yard, Alley, Passage (I could go on) and more unusual titles like ‘Poultry and Princes’ or ‘Puddle Dock’.
St Paul’s Cathedral
I’m actually quite ashamed here, as I passed this magnificent site most days and more often than not just took it for granted. Many times, I have stood on the famous steps watching parades or remembrances, but not once ventured inside. (Now I have long since lost count, how many cathedrals and churches I have visited around the world).
A few years ago, the lengthy project to clean the Cathedral was completed, and it now looks stunning.
As I touched on above, I love the River Thames. My Dad used to work on the tugs & barges along the river when I was a kid, so it holds deep-rooted feelings & memories for me.
Obviously, it’s not quite the bustling workhorse it used to be, but there is always something going on to entertain you. What better way to spend your lunch break, than taking a stroll along the riverside in the sunshine, crisscrossing the bridges.
The mixture of old and new is making the City of London quite an iconic skyline. Although the likes of the Gherkin, Heron Tower, Walkie Talkie, Lloyds building & Tower 42 are quite dominant, the historical buildings & monuments are my favourite and the ones I will always be drawn to.
Also, there is the Shard of course, but not strictly in the city.
The extraordinary amount history that can be found in the ‘square mile’ is unbelievable. Buildings such as the Royal Exchange, Bank of England, Guildhall and even Knights Templar presence can be located nearby the law courts.
In 1666, The Great Fire of London started here in Pudding Lane; unfortunately, this devastated quite a bit of the city, however, when you stroll around keep your eyes open for all the blue plaques commemorating this history.
A fascination of mine are churchyards, a bit weird I know but interesting nonetheless, and the city has some lovely tranquil hideaways. It is amazing that in such a bustling city there are still places to escape to, my favourites are Postman’s Park in St Martin’s Le-Grand, and St Dunstan’s in the East.
Its Markets – No not its trading markets
Although the City of London is not renowned for its fashion shopping, in recent years No.1 New Change has sprung up with its stylish stores. However, it’s the old traditional markets that I love.
Leadenhall Market historically sold meat, game & poultry, but now this elegant parade has been revamped and has since been frequented by Harry Potter.
Additionally, there’s Old Billingsgate Fish Market, down by the River Thames, a newer one has since been relocated to Canary Wharf, but Smithfield’s Meat Market is still in full swing, during the early hours of the morning in the heart of the city, this market comes alive.
Oh, those blurred memories
Now the City of London wouldn’t be the same without its ‘spit and sawdust’ bars, I know they are few and far between now, (those pesky ‘Yuppies’) but I’ve had some interesting evenings over the years.
I certainly don’t regret making the career change that I did, it’s just sometimes there are those little things in life you miss & I wish I hadn’t taken it too much for granted.
Inspired to visit The City of London?
Take to the lanes of the Knights Templar or rub shoulders with the Gherkin?
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