Visiting Post-Lockdown London
"Hot town, summer in the city." That is what The Lovin' Spoonful promised in their 1966 hit Summer in the City, and that was what S and I were in search of as we boarded a train from Surrey for a few nights away in the big smoke.
A trip to London was our first step back to some normal holidaying; much like maky others', our current foreign travel plans are being stifled at each turn. So, for a few nights to mark the start of the summer break, we grabbed a room at a little Belgravia hotel and decided to explore.
We adore a city break, so this was our chance to stack London up alongside the like of Paris, Madrid and Barcelona for a few days of wandering and relaxing.
Our hotel was just a stone's throw from Hyde Park and an easy stroll to Covent Garden and Soho. In fact, we had decided to give the Tube a miss and both discovered that walking around London may well be our favourite way to travel.
Of course we had our custom masks for the train.
The most striking thing about the Capital at the moment is just how quiet it is. We strolled through Hyde Park with space to spare. Even on the sunniest days, grabbing a waterside seat at The Serpentine was easy. From Oxford Street to the West End, all of London's hustling hotspots drifted by quietly in the sun.
Make no mistake, London is not empty. Evidence of the country's attempts to get back on its feet are obvious everywhere, with business folk trotting back and forth and no streets left deserted at any point. But the signs of Lockdown London are still also very present.
Strolling down Oxford Street was easy, with space to spare, and away from the shopping centres, many businesses are still closed or operating under reduced hours. Of those that are open, masks, gloves and screens are everyday realities for staff and shoppers too. Track and trace is also evident, as most restaurants ask you for names and phone numbers as they take your order.
What is impressive, though, is how unobtrusive these changes are. It only takes a moment to scan yourself in as you enter a pub and during our dinners a form was quietly presented like a wine list as the waiter asked for your details.
Everywhere you look, you can see businesses working hard to get back on their feet. But they are in desperate need of support - and there has never been a better time to give them that support. Not only is the demand there, but London is so quiet and calm that you can wander around and do and see the things you might otherwise miss.
We have already planned two day-trips back up, one to mosey round museums and another to take tea and a picnic to Hyde Park.
It turns out it is not just the sun that The Lovin' Spoonful predicted correctly, at the moment there really doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city.