A London Miscellany: From Langdon Close To Druid Street

My usual London life is governed by the wormholes. I appear into St Pancras and do what no other of my fellow passengers do - wander down to the Betjeman sculpture and take five minutes to revel in the glory of Barlow & Ordish's shed. Then descend into the undercroft, once home to so many barrels of Burton beers, before disappearing into a sweaty, sclerotic concrete artery to be farted out the other side into London, baby.

But not this day.

In town for a long beery weekend, staying in the very agreeble Frances Gardener House, Saturday morning demanded an early start. Because London was my lobster. And I got to do something I'd promised myself I'd do in the capital one day. Walk to the river.

The Grays' Inn Road was quiet. Even ITN looked sleepy. Holborn twitched like an itchy hooker. One dark car, travelling too fast. St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe was magnificent; a sumptuous pile of under-rated redbrick. And then the Millennium Bridge, deserted but for three photographers. Why?

Because we all wanted to take a snap like this. And half-six in the morning seems to be the right time to do it.

An occasionally-cobbled South Bank gave way to Borough Market as it lurched into life. Great to chat with fishmongers; boxes of ice lugged up on a sack truck, knives the size of your arm spilling fishguts over old marble, reminding me of precious summers in Brixham where every quay-side mug of black coffee was laced with whisky. Early doors at Monmouth for The Best Damn Coffee In All Of London Town (Part One). A proper bacon cob at Roast - when I say bacon cob, I mean the best smokiest, crispiest bacon ever delivered into bread. Banter with the Mrs King's Pork Pie guy - always good to see a Notts pie in the Big Smoke.

Then the slow stagger eastwards. Under Tower Bridge, past HMS Belfast - awesome is a cruelly over-used term, but apposite for battleships and cathedrals when seen at close range - and on towards more railway arches. Meeting Nate en route, dipping into Monmouth for The Best Damn Coffee In All Of London Town (Part Two). And then,


An archway, shared with (above) the railway network stretching southeast and (inside) The Ham & Cheese Company. Outside, trestles and any other damn kind of seating that can be mustered lined The Ropewalk. Beers appear; from the cooler, such delights as an IPA with Amarillo, Nelson & Riwaka. Then, a keg of Saison. A table groans with bottles to takeaway.

There's a fleeting moment. A little sun, fresh mozzarella & bresaola on the table, perfectly-hopped sunshine in a glass, the laughter of friends and strangers... you could be in many places, until the lurching rattle of the 0957 to Brighton reminds you that you're in Bermondsey.

And I wouldn't swap it for anywhere else in the world. I've enjoyed many glorious mornings. But to walk the capital as it's nudged from its slumber and toast it with the best bottled beer London has to offer...  that's special.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it".