Today City Slicker returns after a brief hiatus, featuring none other than our island’s great capital. Our city slicker is my long-time friend (13 years and counting!) and all-around inspiring lady Priya, born and bred in the big smoke and currently working for a migration start-up in east London. She’s a stylish, indomitably kind, book-loving Londoner who always has a stellar recommendation for tea and cake up her sleeve and never says no to an adventure. So, without further ado – Priya’s London…
Q: How did you end up in your city?
I was born in London and grew up in a suburb on the Metropolitan line on the outskirts of the city (with Louise by my side!) My parents were born in Malawi and Kenya respectively but moved here in their youth. That’s the charm of London, where you can find a history of many different cultures.
Q: What’s the best season to visit your city, and why?
Spring. Walking around the city with blossoms on the trees and on the sidewalks. You can have a warm day where you can have a spontaneous picnic in one of the parks or go to a street food festival and a colder day where you can browse record stores and bookshops and have tea in a cafe.
Q: Where do you head when you’re craving inspiration?
On days when I need inspiration, I like to visit galleries. I prefer weekdays after work an hour or two before they are about to close when it is quieter. There are so many new exhibitions from art, world history to photography all over the city that are always changing and are worth exploring. I would recommend starting at The Photographers’ Gallery, the first gallery in the world focusing only on photography. I am equally fascinated by the African, Asian and Egyptian collections in the British Museum.
Q: What’s your top gastronomic recommendation?
In London, you can try food and drinks from all over the world. Try Koya Bar in Frith Street for a quick Japanese meal and indulge in some s’mores over the fire at Flesh & Buns. There are almost too many places to choose from. With so much to try, I’m still learning myself!
Q: Best outdoor space?
My personal favourite is Greenwich Park. The views are beautiful at sunset where you can lie on the hill and see the London skyline, the Thames as well as the greenery. You can also stand on the line dividing the eastern and western hemispheres and see the stars from the Old Royal Observatory on the top of the hill. Something beautiful that I have been curious about since childhood.
Q: Tell us about a place a visitor shouldn’t miss?
I would recommend finding somewhere high up to see a panoramic view of London by night. The Shard and the London Eye are open in the evenings and the Roof Terrace at One New Change (above) is also a nice option to see the dome of St Paul’s and London’s spires lit up against the evening skyline.
Q: What does your city sound like?
It is always different depending on where you are alongside voices of passers-by and the familiar sound of tube tracks.
Q: How would you spend a perfect day in your city?
One of my closest friends and I love the word flâneur – meaning a stroller exploring a city. We joke that when we are walking around discovering places, we are ‘flanning’. Days when you just walk around and go to cafes you have never been to, browse bookstores you have just found, visit new spaces and have drinks in pubs along the way. One of my favourite evenings in London that has become tradition, is a music night in West London called Blue Flowers. It happens once every couple of months, and always reminds me of the amazing talent the city holds.
Q: What makes your city unique?
David Attenborough once said ‘I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored.’ London reminds me of this. I have lived here most of my life between travels, and am discovering new places in the city every day, yet it is so familiar that it will always be home.
Q: Describe your city in three words.
Cultural, Fresh, Vibrant. And to end, an extract on London from poet Bernardine Evaristo in the unpublished poem Routes:
my heated body floats above a London of birch
and pine forest, of open grassland where gangs
of straight-tusked elephants gather in Trafalgar
Square, hippopotami wallow in the brown marshes
of Pall Mall and from Marble Arch I gaze longingly
on sheets of marigold, meadowsweet, mint
Thank you so much, Priya! I love seeing my own hometown through the eyes of another (and a dear friend, at that) – cities are, in the end, such personal entities. I’d love to feature more Londoners and am still taking applications from other city dwellers around the world. If you’d like to take part, drop me an email at [email protected]. I’d love to feature you and your city! All images in this Q+A taken by me.