It’s so easy to share something on Instagram. A quickly snapped photo, a filter chosen, a brief description – just enough to give your followers an idea of where you are or what you’re doing, and maybe a hashtag.
Often, though, there’s much more of a story behind those photos so I decided to have a look back on my London Instagrams and share some of those stories with you.
Red Lantern, Chinatown
It was Summer 2013, sometime in August. I’d just been for an interview near Holborn station and was taking a walk in the sun, starting near Covent Garden and finishing in Chinatown. I looked up and saw this big red lantern against the blue sky and loved how good the colours looked together. I was so full of hope, and so full of the excitement that comes with starting again somewhere new, that I think I was literally walking around with a smile of my face.
Neals Yard, Covent Garden
When I was studying for my A-Levels my friends and I would get the train to London to go shopping in Covent Garden and almost always stop off at Neal’s Yard. When I took this photo I’d just come from an interview at a hostel booking site. The sun kept disappearing behind the clouds and I remember wishing I’d brought a cardigan to go over my smart black dress. I went to Neal’s Yard because I needed to sit down and change out of my heels and into my sandals and also because, honestly, who can resist and a coffee and a bit of people watching?
Covent Garden Market
I was still living at my parent’s house and hadn’t found a job in London yet. Those interviews I’d been to in the weeks beforehand hadn’t worked out the way I’d planned, but I was offered a helicopter flight over London and I decided to make a weekend of it. I spent the Saturday seeing the city from the sky and drinking in Camden with some friends and on the Sunday I took a walk around Covent Garden, stopping for a while in the market.
Honestly? I was feeling kind of disheartened. I’d waited for weeks before finding out that I hadn’t got the job, a job I really wanted, and I was weighing up the possibility of not moving to London at all and setting up my own business instead. This would mean that I’d probably have to live at my parent’s house though and I desperately wanted to be in London where so many of my friends were based.
Home meant security but it also kind of meant loneliness, and trying to force friendships with people who’d quite obviously moved on with their lives while I was away.
There was a festival going on along Southbank, with pop-up gardens and a sandpit for kids and lots of street performers entertaining passers by in the sweltering heat. I was glad for the warmth – I hadn’t been back from New Zealand long and I’d left Auckland during a particularly chilly winter. This colourful carousel caught my eye and I managed to get a picture before it was once again over-run with under 10s. Ok, let’s face it, if I hadn’t been on my own/wearing quite a smart dress for an interview I’d been to beforehand, I probably would have been on that carousel like a shot too.
I eventually found a job, started in early November 2013 and, with my office near London Bridge Station and an event I needed to be at directly across the river, I decided to walk across Tower Bridge instead of taking public transport. I’m so glad I did. Even though I was still crashing with a friend while I looked for somewhere to live, I joined the throng of commuters making their way from one side to the other, looked to my left to see London lit up as far as I could see and I knew I’d made the right decision.
Sunrise in Finsbury Park
I went to Seattle for work (err and maybe a bit of shopping) and, when I got back, I found somewhere to live with an old friend from Uni. We chose a two bedroom flat in North London and I moved in with nothing but a suitcase, the rest of my belongings still at my parent’s house. With no duvet, no furnishings, nothing in the kitchen, it was a tough week or so before my parent’s visited with my stuff, but I woke up one morning to this sunrise and had to take a picture before going to work.
I usually try and avoid Oxford Street but when my parents came to visit and wanted to go there I agreed. After all, they’d brought some of my things to my new flat the night before so the least I could do was do what they wanted to do. I was waiting for them outside Marks and Spencers when I randomly looked up and saw this building. Oxford Street can be a lot of things; garish, busy, awash with slow walkers and tacky, brightly lit shops but if you look above all of that it’s actually pretty beautiful.
Afternoon Tea in Shoreditch
It was that awkward period between Christmas and new year where the days seem to drift into one another and, despite you vowing to use the time off work to start reading that book you’ve had tucked away or writing blog posts or curling up at home with movies and tea and chocolate left over from Christmas day, you end up calling your friends in a mild cabin fever panic.
On this particular day, I met one of my co-workers for coffee on Brick Lane at midday, I met another friend at my local pub in Finsbury Park during the evening and between those two I went for afternoon tea at The Albion in Shoreditch. The scone was still warm, the tea came in a proper teapot and the mini brownies and flapjacks were the perfect side-dish.
I went for breakfast at Southbank with a friend I used to work in a cafe with while I was living in Melbourne and afterwards, instead of just going home, I decided to have a look around the Tate. I’d not been in about ten years and it was something free to do while I waited for the rain to stop outside. I know nothing about art, but I enjoyed the photography exhibitions they had on at the time and just before I left I snapped a photo of the main hall, the place echoing with chit chat and children’s laughter.
St Paul’s Cathedral, as seen from Tate Modern
There’s a cafe inside Tate Modern with a balcony where, on sunny days, I’m sure it’s beautiful to sit outside and admire the view. On this day London was sitting securely under a huge rain cloud, the sky an ominous shade of grey but you could still see St Paul’s Cathedral so I braved the cold and went out onto the windy balcony, taking this picture before retreating back inside for coffee.
Mason Jar Mojito at Kaff, Brixton
I’m not going to lie to you guys, many of my Friday nights in London so far have been spent doing incredibly uncultured stuff like drinking in various different establishments and getting the last tube home. On this particular night it was my friend Pete’s birthday and he’d organised for a group of us to have dinner at Kaff in Brixton. The food was meaty, spicy and filling, and the cocktails mixed and served in mason jars were cheap and strong. What more could you want?
Vintage suitcases at Old Spitalfields Market
I found out about a vintage market that happens at Old Spitalfields Market on the third Saturday of every month and decided to check it out, knowing I wasn’t really looking for anything but loving the idea of spending an afternoon wandering between the stalls.
I ended up buying a black top with a jewel-lined neck and shoulder pads for £8 from a girl with bright red hair and the type of fringe I could totally get away with if I never had to go out in the rain again…EVER. I spotted this vintage luggage stacked up on the floor and immediately imagined boarding a plane with one, however impractical it would actually be. Don’t worry, I walked away before I made a decision that would probably see me fighting my way onto the tube with six empty suitcases.