London Calling: In Search of Memories of Times Past

After having lived in London for five years, all my memories of the city were sweet and beautiful. So often I think back to when I used to jog along the Thames from St. Paul’s Cathedral to Big Ben and back after work on a daily basis, or when I would take a double decker bus and enjoy the beautiful architecture of the city as it passed me by.

There weren’t many activities planned for this particular trip, but there were hopes of finding some beautiful fabric, to be inspired, to enjoy the good food that I missed, and time permitting to enjoy a nice afternoon tea at the Savoy Hotel.

I also wanted to enjoy another nice jog along the Thames just like old times, but I didn’t put too much hope into that.

Expectations for this trip were actually rather low, but I knew as long as I found some fabric, and ate some food I would be happy. Of course, even that didn’t go as planned.

My plane landed at Heathrow on a Thursday night and after what seemed like hours getting to the hotel, I arrive at around midnight. Needless to say I was exhausted after having to wake up at 4 am the prior day to catch the plane so straight to my pillow I went. Everything seemed to be a blur now, and I found myself constantly rushing to catch the next train or bus. It was exhausting. My very short four day trip to London felt very disappointing, and dare I say gloomy. Nothing like what I had remembered.

The first morning was spent in the “garment district” which is really just one small street, to frequent once again all of the shops I used to go to. Every store seemed to have marked up their price tags in the past 12 months or so, and even the layout of the stores had changed. I took my time looking through piles and piles of fabric, without really finding anything that inspired me. How other designers find their muse I’m not sure, but whenever I see a fabric that catches my eye I try to picture making the simplest garment out of it, be it either a skirt or a top. As I was going from fabric shop to fabric shop I was constantly making comparisons to the NYC fabric scene, I now realize that NYC fabric shops beats London’s both on price and selection. The fabric shop I love going to most is Mood Fabrics on 37th St. in Midtown, Manhattan. Check it out if you’re ever in the area!

There was something in particular that I wanted to re-experience during my stay, since I’ve yet to come across it in North America; a slice of passion fruit cheesecake from Princi – an authentic Italian eatery. After the disappointing fabric shopping, I dashed straight to Princi looking for a sugar-loaded pick-me-up. But to my dismay it was no longer on the menu!  Nothing was really working out for me.

One thing that did work out was getting reservations at Bocca Di Lupo later that night for dinner – an Italian restaurant that was recommended to me by a number of friends back in New York, and one that I never had the opportunity to try when I lived in London. The food was really pretty good, and I sat right in front of the kitchen. It was such a wonderful experience to be sitting in front of the chefs and watching them work side by side in such close quarters – just like on TV! My eyes were pleased with the show, and my tummy was content with the food. This was probably the highlight of the trip. Do beware of the “pink plate” charge on the bill, which can be taken off upon request.

I also had the pleasure of meeting up with a lady I had met through Instagram. We met on a hot sunny Sunday for brunch, and had such a wonderful conversation. Brunch was only to last an hour or so, but by the time I looked at my phone, three hours had passed! She is an incredibly artistic and skilled individual, she knitted a wool scarf for me from scratch – which took her a month to complete! Words failed me as I beheld her masterpiece in my hands.

We parted ways safe in the knowledge that our paths will cross again in the near future. Afternoon tea at the Savoy had to be cancelled from my itinerary as I had gotten very little sleep the night before and felt like I was coming down with a cold. Instead I enjoyed a nice Chinese dim sum meal at Mayfair Garden – a restaurant I had oft frequented during my 5 years in London. This did not disappoint!

After coming down with a fever, twitching and shivering on the flight home, I was definitely glad to be home. Lesson learned on this trip was, some things you might have experienced in the past may not be as good as you remember them to be, and don’t go to London for leisure for four short days!


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