Working in Square Mile can only be described as ‘Fast’. Everything here is designed in a way that exudes speed. The hustle of city workers rushing to their offices, the take away lunches that are in your hands and on your desk within a matter of minutes, and the every growing string of coffee shops that have a steamy hot cup of caffeine waiting for you before you’ve even ordered. The city is fast, and it shows no signs of stopping, until you show up on a Saturday.
From Monday to Friday, The City works as a hive, busy workers to and fro in every direction, but on a weekend, you scarcely see a soul. With offices, lunch places and cafes shut you’re stretched to find sight of another person, and suddenly you start to see all the things you miss in the crowds of people that usually haunt the place. You see the intricacies of modern architecture, you find the subtle nods of old London in nooks and crannies, and you discover how a place so frantic can actually be incredibly peaceful.
So I embarked on a Saturday journey into the city, and I started my day by taking a seat in the Grand Cafe at The Royal Exchange. An exuberant landmark in the heart of the city, decked with designer stores, jewellery boutiques and a beautiful bar and restaurant situated in it’s main hall. The inner hall itself is a testament to fine British architecture. The walls are strewn with columns and the glass ceiling floods the hall with light, and though the surroundings may seem imposing, the cafe is delightfully cosy and welcoming.
Grand Cafe @ The Royal Exchange
Following my morning in the Grand Cafe, I decided to take a stroll through the emptied city streets, the day was bright and even though an army of grey clouds began to loom in the distance, it was peaceful and dry. The wind whipped briskly here and there and I found myself watching the fallen leave aimlessly fly across the stony concrete, my scarf caught in the winds grasp meekly.
Glass and concrete fills the city skyline, cranes occasionally peaking out from behind some nearby construction site like exaggerated antennas. The city is crafted finely, and yet every street boasts a unique but familiar facade.
I stopped at one of my favourite haunts, St Pauls Cathedral, it’s majesty never ceasing to amaze me. I walk past the cathedral every day on my way to work and yet every time I cross it’s path, I find something new in its design. Whether it’s a statue, a notch a landing, there seems to be endless discovery in this great remnant of the past. That ‘air’ of the past litters itself throughout London, in a city that boasts about being the hub of the world, a city of modern people and modern culture, so much of our world is old.
St Paul’s Cathedral
And in my mind, it’s that old world that propels us forward, London is dripping with tradition, and traditions that are being reinvented by a new generation. Ideals may grow, but our foundations both physical and metaphorical stand stronger than ever. We may build glass buildings filled with glittering lights, but we’ll linger a longer gaze on the monuments of old.