When I was nineteen, I went to work in London for the summer. Having lived all my life up until then in a relatively small Irish town, the city was a massive change for me. At that time my entire country had a population of just over four million people; London, on the other hand, was home to nearly eight million. I remember coming out of the train station on my own to see locals, tourists and red double-decker buses (such a cliché but true!) whizzing by. The distance from Dublin to London is around 466 kilometres but I felt a million miles from home. It was the sixteenth of June and the city was hot, loud and crowded. I instantly fell in love with it.
I started at my new job the next day and I learned that I was to work weekdays but I had weekends off. So I quickly developed a routine where I worked Monday to Friday but every Saturday and Sunday, I would set out first thing in the morning to explore a different part of the city.
I went shopping on Oxford Street, took in the views from Parliament Hill, people-watched in Trafalgar Square, trawled through Camden Market, peered at Buckingham Palace through its tall gates, visited an old friend in Watford, accidentally stumbled upon a Gay Pride street party in Soho, swung by Wimbledon, explored the East End and by the end of the summer; I still hadn’t seen half of what the United Kingdom’s capital had to offer.
It was pretty amazing, to say the least. I can’t believe it’s been four years since I was there. I think a return might be on the cards…