I did not expect to say this, but I might have loved Day 2 even more than Day 1. The weather was not nearly as stunning (though it was dry and warmish so no complaining here!) and there weren’t London icons around every corner (the hyper-famous ones at least). But, the sheer joy of new discoveries and hidden corners made me feel like a kid again.
I particularly enjoyed the City having a little more life in it than last time. My first day out was right before the Christmas holidays and the streets were all but empty. In some ways it’s nice to have the space to yourself but I prefer to have some action going on around me. People-watching just isn’t the same without people.
I’ll put up a photo of the area I covered as soon as I am near my A to Z to snap one but, for now, I’ll share some favourite moments of the day.
Today’s Awards Go To:
Best Photo Bomber ~ The Gherkin
30 St. Mary Axe (as it’s formally known) somehow manages to wriggle its way into the skyline no matter where you are in the neighbourhood. I think I solved the mystery though when I flicked through my photos and saw that there are actually two of them. I really love the contrast of this building with all the squareness in the area. And I’m dying to go to the bar there one day!
Best Right Place at the Right Time Moment ~ Walking into the London Exchange with these Kids
While crossing the paving stones leading into the entryway, these adorable munchkins were playing the well-known Don’t Step on the Cracks game. When they burst through the doors and were confronted with the new, tiny tiles of the courtyard, they quite literally stopped in their tracks, their momentum almost pushing them to their doom. They recovered their footing and discussed how to proceed. This was the solution: very small, calculated steps. I would have suggested they take a look at the way the border of the floor was tiled to save them some stress but I was too busy chuckling to myself.
Best Being a Kid Myself Moment ~ Discovering the Maze of Alleys Behind Gracechurch Street.
I am going to share a truth that may sting a little: the A to Z doesn’t know everything. It’s ok. We’ll get through this together.
If you stand at the Gracechurch entryway to Leadenhall Market looking west, you are probably staring at several entry points to my favourite secret of Day 2 without even realising it. Your handy map won’t ever tell you to go this way because, as far as it’s concerned, there is nothing to see there. But, three tiny alleys off the main road lead into a maze of back courts, churchyards and hidden pubs all whispering that wonderful phrase of discovery into your ear where it trickles down your spine, “you are now a member of an exclusive club of people who know this exists.” Absolutely my favourite part of the day.
Apparently I was too excitedly exploring the area to take any decent photos, so the one below is more to illustrate the tininess of the pathways, replete with a blurry postman to give you some scale. You’ll just have to go there yourself to join the club.
Best Example of City Life ~ Leadenhall Market
When I walked through the main colonnade at noon, the market was essentially deserted. Then, the City went to lunch. At 1:00, every pub (and I really mean EVERY pub) was suddenly bursting with workers in suits having a quick pint before facing the afternoon. (Click the photo for a larger version)
Highest Ratio of Disappointment to Street Name Possibility ~ Sugar Bakers Court
It seems like this street should be bright and colourful and maybe even lined with free bags of candy for anyone who finds it. Instead, I had to wait to take my photo while a man pissed down the wall.
Most Like What Sugar Bakers Court Should Actually Be ~ White Lion Court
Having experienced the disappointment of Sugar Bakers Court, I didn’t hold out much hope for its White Lion counterpart. I was pleasantly surprised, however, with one of the cuter, more colourful (though still not lined in free candy) alleys I’ve been down so far. This photo shows almost the entire court. So, yeah, it’s tiny, but it’s worth a gander if you find yourself on Cornhill.
Best New Mascot for CZ Walks ~ This Guy
I approve of the way he has stopped in the middle of the street and forced traffic to bend around him. If only I could be so ballsy.
Most Philosophically Difficult Command ~ Proceed When Illuminated
What does it mean to really proceed? And what is illumination? And if I proceed, will I find myself once again un-illuminated about my new surroundings? And if so, was I really illuminated in the first place? So many questions about this sign alone before I can even think of pondering the greater questions of human existence.
Well that about sums up Day 2. A really wonderful day of exploration and discovery. On that note, I thought I might ask you to contemplate something more down to earth than the meaning of illumination.
Are there any secrets in this area of London that you love? If you are willing to share, I’d love to hear your comments 🙂