Going to Central London at the moment feels like going to Paris.
Yes, I said it. I know I sound like every British person when it’s above 16 degrees outside and you are obliged to say “wow, feels like I’m on holiday!” but it’s true.
London has been completely transformed by the introduction of outdoor dining, a move which was purely due to the forced hand of the hospitality sector having to keep up with a stunted loosening in lockdown restrictions.
But it’s the happiest accident this city has had since lockdown forced it into a semi-functional ghost town, and I think it should stay.
Take Soho, for example. Previously, I wouldn’t have ever considered visiting Soho in the daytime. It’s full of tourists, it’s not overly interesting unless you’re three strawberry daiquiris deep and there’s much better atmospheres for daytime visiting in London.
Now, it’s next to none for good vibes in the city. This can be applied to almost any street in London with restaurants or pubs, which is, uh, pretty much every street in London.
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It’s one thing to wander down a street in your city and look through windows of pubs and restaurants to see a glimpse of life returning, but to walk past throngs of people gathered on the pavement and hear the hubbub of laughter, glasses clinking and conversations – that’s pure joy to me right now.
After so long seeing just a handful of faces, the sight of so many people from different households all revelling in the ability to do something we’ve missed so much is like a constant stream of serotonin straight to my brain.
I love it, and I don’t want it to go.
Think about it, the weather is only going to (eventually) get warmer, the desire for outdoor seats will only get greater and the experience will only get better as the sun stays up for longer.
I want to watch the sun set in a busy London street with four glasses of Aperol spritz on my table and a full meal in front of me.
I want bikes rushing past me and the slight fear of my phone being stolen off the table to ignite a minor amount of adrenaline in my stomach. I do not want to return to indoor dining – I’ve had enough of the indoors at this point, thanks.
Not only that, but even as a non-diner, the experience is blissful. Walking past outdoor restaurant goers and pubbers isn’t just enjoyable, it’s calming.
Particularly as a woman, having a crowd of people occupy every street and being safe in the knowledge that a group of people is always around the corner is incredibly consolidating for walking around London at night.
It gives London a new feeling. A livelihood and friendliness which we have notoriously lacked for years. It makes this city a better place to live in and reminds you why you decided to live here in the first place.
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