The two most common phrases I heard in London last week? “It’s so lovely out,” followed quickly by: “This is not normal.”
London may get a bad rap for its fickle weather, but on the past two visits I’ve seen nearly nothing but sunshine and blue skies. Friends tell me there are only a handful of abundantly sunny days every year — and I was lucky enough to catch a string of them.
And when it’s sunny in London, it’s a big deal. Like, a very big deal. As the sun peeks out, the city seems to explode as people lumber out of hibernation. Anyone with the means will settle down in the park with snacks, a bottle of wine (or a bucket of gin and tonics!) and perhaps the first 99 Flake of the season.
On a cloudless Saturday in Hackney, it was so crowded we could hardly find a corner of a crate to sit on at Crate Brewery or a square of cement along the Towpath. Over in Victoria Park, games and cookouts and snoozing couples dotted the expansive green meadows.
As we walked along the water, people were kayaking down the canals and throwing parties on the roofs of house boats. Alfresco restaurants and beer gardens were all packed full of joyous people, out to enjoy an effortless afternoon, and even knocking off work early to celebrate the rare opportunity to absorb some Vitamin D.
Sometimes a holiday can be that simple: fantastic weather, no itinerary, good friends, good food. You don’t need much more than a few laid-back, sunny days to cast a city in a whole new light. And even though “This is not normal,” I’ll look back on London with sun-drenched memories. At least until next visit…