I had a little excursion into the West End today. It's not something I do too often these days, as I only tend to go with a specific purpose in mind or occasionally if we go in over the weekend. On this occasion, it was to buy some stock that I sell in the lead up to Christmas, that I get from a particular shop just off Oxford Street.
I had lunch before I went, to prevent my needing to spend money on food, and hopped on a bus that usually takes me all the way to Tottenham Court Road or thereabouts. On this occasion, however, it wasn't long before I realised that it was only actually going part of the way, which was a bit annoying. Anyway, I enjoyed the journey through the City of London. I love people watching from the top deck of the bus.
When I first came to London over 15 years ago, I studied in the Square Mile for the first year and would regularly catch the bus and check out the buildings, monuments, landmarks, etc. It fascinated me and still does, trying to imagine what the people in the City actually do. Today, it was extremely busy, as the bus passed through over the lunchtime period. City workers were everywhere - grabbing some lunch, shopping, stretching their legs, having a smoke.
I've got to admit that I do have a bit of a soft spot for the City. I think it stems from the fact that I always felt safe there. I can remember the police coming to talk to us at Uni and telling us that it was the safest place in the Metropolis, in that it had the lowest crime rates, which always reassured me. I'm sure there have been some crimes committed in the city, especially some fiscal ones, but it always seems pretty civilised. On a weekend, it is virtually deserted, which always amazes me, save for a few tourists that is. As a consequence, we like to go into the City on a weekend sometimes, as it's so hassle free.
I imagine that many people who come to London, don't even bother to visit the City, instead opting to visit the more famous landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, etc. I can understand them wanting to do that, but I guess I take all that for granted living here and the places that appeal to me are completely different ones.
I used to love visiting the Bank of England museum with LB in the holidays and paid several visits to the Museum of London on London Wall too, when I was a student. Spitalfields is a fascinating area to explore and the Barbican is also an interesting place to visit with a cinema and lots of different music and other cultural events taking place there. OH always fancied living in an apartment in the Barbican, but I think they're probably well out of our price range these days.
Anyway, I digress. I eventually got off the bus at Holborn, where the bus terminated and decided to walk the rest of the way into town. I passed a large post office that I once used to frequent, when I did temping work in a post room whilst at Uni. I decided to go in as I needed some stamps and take a trip down memory lane. I soon came out again, as the queue was far too long, made up of people on their lunch breaks trying to do errands.
I walked on to my destination, I can't say that I like the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street that much, I often wonder what visitors to London must think of this part of the city, but maybe they like the souvenir shops. I must admit it is changing a little for the better these days. Anyway, I was pleased to eventually turn off down a side street to get to my destination.
Items bought, I headed back for the bus, and picked up a free cup of tea from McDonalds on the way. (I had a full card of coffee beans - does anyone else save these?). I always pull these off OH's expresso cups, that he sometimes buys when out and about. I know it only saves 99p, but it all helps. (There are some frugalities that I do still uphold).
I left the West End on a different bus route, a routemaster bus this time, and headed home through Bloomsbury and the Angel Islington, doing a lot more people watching along the way. I realised I'd once again jumped on a bus that wasn't going as far as I thought it would and had another walk at the other end to get home. I must pay more attention when catching the bus in future.
It was nice to get out and about and revisit a few places, but my feet and I were also very happy to get home again, until next time.