To be born, and live on the periphery of one of the most famous places in the world can only be seen as winning in the lottery of life. It was my fortune to pop out just over three decades ago the mere throw of a stone away from London. Someone else would have needed to throw the stone. I was fresh from the womb. I haven’t packed on much muscle since. Okay, it wasn’t the full silver spoon in the mouth treatment but I’m grateful to have been dealt a pretty good hand in relation to many people in the world, purely based on where I entered it geographically.
Sadly, since then I haven’t had any further luck with lottery draws, pretty much a pre-requisite to buying a property in England’s capital. Mortgage brokers are known to circle outside city pubs ready to finance the purchase of rounds. Despite having lived on the cusp of the place my entire life my experiences of going in to London are very much limited. A dream location for people who love to explore, indulge in history and generally make merry, it even baffles me to some extent just why I’ve not taken more advantage of what’s on my doorstep. And I don’t mean the mess the local Fox made last night. Fantastic. When it comes to the “why?” the answer is simple, yet one I have had trouble acknowledging publicly in the past. Hello
darkness anxiety my old friend.
I’ve dipped into mental health a little on the blog before, going forward I plan to put a little more emphasis on it as it is my constant travel companion. Recognising and being open about our mental health is important, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Anxiety is a dick. It doesn’t respect rational thought and casts anchor at the most inappropriate of times. London, for me, is a case in point. That little voice becomes all encompassing. “LoNdOn!? What are you going there for? Something bad will happen!” The worst part here is that most of the time I listen. As humans we supposedly predict future outcomes based on past events. My anxious mind goes to the worst case scenario every time. Otherwise known as catastrophising. How many bad things have happened to me in London? None, zero, zilch, nada.
Don’t get me wrong, there are aspects of London that I don’t particularly enjoy. Crowded tubes, obnoxious people, the price of beer. In reality, I’m going to that worst case scenario again. Not all tubes are crowded, some are. Not all people in London are obnoxious, some are. Not all pints in London are expensive. Actually the last one was a valid complaint. Conversely many other places get busy, lots of people in lots of places are rude and expensive pints can be found anywhere if you look hard enough for them. London doesn’t have that particular monopoly.
All of the above got me to thinking, firstly about taking a walk around the city with a Scottie Dog made of metal and then, realising that wasn’t possible, about how I can explore London more, all the while sticking two fingers up at that dick we previously identified as anxiety. At a time when international travel is tricky I have the answer to multicultural experiences, quirky locations, incredible architecture and places of historical significance at my fingertips. With that in mind I drew up a “bucket” list of five London based activities I am going to achieve in 2022. Want to see my bucket (list)? Better come back next week as I’ll be posting it then.
Turns out there’s a hole in my bucket so I’ll drop one small spoiler. Food. The gateway to other cultures when we can’t travel, London is a hotbed of international cuisine, from restaurants, to fast food, to street food. What a way to vicariously travel. On my last trip to the city I had an amazing Raclette from Kappacasein at Borough Market. I was three sheets to the wind at the time I have to admit, so I won’t lie and say it made me feel as though I was somewhere in the Swiss Alps. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve thought about that molten cheese draped over baby potatoes, offset with the crunch of vinegary pickles every day since I ate it though. Writing those words has had me drooling like a prime Homer Simpson so while I wipe off my keyboard (phwoar), feast your eyes upon the cheesy, potatoey greatness below. #Foodstagram.
That’s better. Along with food, anxiety has been factored in to the list. Most of the items on it can be done any time. This allows me to roll with the punches if I wake up one morning and my mind tells me no. But my body, my body is telling me we shouldn’t quote that guy actually. I can just change my plans for the day on the fly with no guilt that I’m missing out or letting someone down. Progressive overload is the plan, to tackle my anxiety and to become better acquainted with London. Progressive overload is also the way to build more muscle too apparently. When I’ve cracked that one watch out if you live within the M25, as I may just throw that stone to see if it reaches the city.