Busting The Main Misconception of London

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I wish I could say that the song ‘London’s Calling’ by the Clash was playing and I dropped everything I was doing and rushed off to the vibrant capital of what I believe is the best country in the world…BRITAIN! Well, it wasn’t like that but here I am!

Arriving in London from Oxford not very early one morning with my regrettably large bags and with a great desire to get rid of them as soon as possible, I traipsed forward to the Underground station. It was 11am and there were people rushing around, people looking lost, people screaming at the ticket booths. Ah, nice to be in London! For some reason I was absurdly nervous about getting lost on the underground.

In retrospect, the worst thing that could have happened was that I would have ridden around with my luggage for a few hours max. But I was panicked over this journey for some reason. I was alone in a big city, with no one useful to call if something terrible was to happen and no one would notice if I went missing until probably ten days later when I didn’t get off the bus. I would have been worm food by then. But were any of those things unnerving me? No, I was worried about getting lost on the tube. Of course I found my way with ease and amusement. 🙂

This is good news; looking down, I do not scream tourist anymore…no luggage no stress. :-)

This is good news; looking down, I do not scream tourist anymore…no luggage no stress. 🙂

I must admit that before I moved to London, I always thought of the city as a grey metropolis, bursting at its imaginary seams with concrete and wrought iron. Once I was living here, my view quickly changed. I found myself walking or taking the bus as opposed to jumping on the tube even though it was the fastest one. Ironically, I actually slowed down, stopped rushing and started soaking up the vibrant inspirations that my new environment had to offer. I soon realized that the city wasn’t the grey metropolis I had first thought; in fact, it was far from it.

I must say, however, that it is ridiculous that people think London is constantly coated in fog and everything is grey. I suspect Charles Dickens is actually the culprit behind this. I accused you, Charles Dickens! 🙂

‘Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city.’ It goes on like this for another probably 10 sentences in his novel Bleak House. Honestly, in reality, London is never foggy. Mind you, it was incredibly polluted during Victorian times, mostly because of the reliance on coal for fires and for lanterns. Smog, not fog. But now, it’s actually a really beautiful clear and colourful city, in my opinion.

As we all know, London is a very old city, containing architecture from many centuries. All these buildings were once modern and their style is influenced by previous ones; this is why many buildings constructed in the last two centuries have roman styles columns and other classic touches. London is a good example of how modern architecture sits side by side with classic one. Everything is mixed up from one street to the next. But first and foremost, there is colour everywhere! I do agree that colours can certainly alter our mood or have a positive or negative impact on us even though many of us are not aware about it. Enough bragging for now! To sum up, urban colours are a very big part of our world, from architecture to education, music or street fashion and art – they make living more cheerful and let us enjoy the diversity.

ARCHITECTURE & ENVIRONMENT

Neal's Yard Garden

Neal’s Yard Garden

Once upon a time I used to get lost in London’s back streets. ( 🙂 sarcastic one, I still do it since I actually enjoy the idea of just getting lost); on one of my strolls around the city, I noticed a small alleyway between two shops. My curiosity led me down the alley and came into this quirky little courtyard, hidden away in Covent Garden’s back streets. The multi-coloured buildings are decorated with hanging baskets and colourful shutters. It’s no wonder Monty Python once called it home.

 

Leadenhall Market - covered by an ornate roof structure, painted green, burgundy, maroon and cream with cobbled floors below. I think it’s a rather fine piece of Victorian architecture.

Leadenhall Market – covered by an ornate roof structure, painted green, burgundy, maroon and cream with cobbled floors below. I think it’s a rather fine piece of Victorian architecture.

The Shard - the tallest building in London, lit up at night.

The Shard – the tallest building in London, lit up at night.

Notting Hill Gate

Notting Hill Gate

Say Shoreditch and a collage of clichés instantly decorates your mind; basically anything with the word ‘pop-up’ in front of it. But love it or hate it, there’s no doubt Shoreditch is one of the most colourful hoods in the capital. Living in this area is anything but boring.

Say Shoreditch and a collage of clichés instantly decorates your mind; basically anything with the word ‘pop-up’ in front of it. But love it or hate it, there’s no doubt Shoreditch is one of the most colourful hoods in the capital. Living in this area is anything but boring.

Little Venice on a sunny day - walking beside the Regent's canals, listening to Biffy Clyro, enjoying the tranquillity of the waterways

Little Venice on a sunny day – walking beside the Regent’s canals, listening to Biffy Clyro, enjoying the tranquillity of the waterways

Melt the guns, Brick Lane :-)

Melt the guns, Brick Lane 🙂

When the Thames is going to freeze.

When the Thames is going to freeze.

Shop in Portobello Road

Shop in Portobello Road

Shop in Marylebone High Street

Shop in Marylebone High Street

 

High school in East London

High school in East London

Primary school in South London

Primary school in South London

Understanding the north south divide and discovering hipster east or posh west London, I found that there are clumps of painted houses, from bright green to pale lavenders nearly everywhere. From what I can tell, there is no real logical order to them. They are usually in groups of five or ten, surrounded by classic brick terraced homes that line streets throughout the city.

Notting Hill - each house is painted a distinctive colour so the facade resembles a pastel rainbow of blues, pinks, yellows, greens and purples. There's no pattern or uniformity to the colour selection but somehow it all works. Gorgeous.

Notting Hill – each house is painted a distinctive colour so the facade resembles a pastel rainbow of blues, pinks, yellows, greens and purples. There’s no pattern or uniformity to the colour selection but somehow it all works. Gorgeous.

Notting Hill

Notting Hill

Westbourn Grove - the area is full of very attractive Georgian/early Victorian terraced houses that, no doubt, cost a bomb.

Westbourn Grove – the area is full of very attractive Georgian/early Victorian terraced houses that, no doubt, cost a bomb.

Wandering around Notting Hill, I've spotted this adorable message: "Thank dad. You're home." There is a name inside the letter H: Richard W.A. Curtis, no one else than the director of the romantic comedy film Love Actually. I wish I'd seen his face coming back home and finding this cute message. Like father, like son.

Wandering around Notting Hill, I’ve spotted this adorable message: “Thank dad. You’re home.” There is a name inside the letter H: Richard W.A. Curtis, no one else than the director of the romantic comedy film Love Actually. I wish I’d seen his face coming back home and finding this cute message. Like father, like son.

Farrington - never growing tired of exploring and finding new bits that I haven't seen the time before.

Farrington – never growing tired of exploring and finding new bits that I haven’t seen the time before.

STREET ART

Over time, street art has become a big obsession of mine; I love when the ordinary gets a makeover by art. I wasn’t expecting the street art of London to have such an affect on me, in fact I wasn’t expecting it at all, and I think that is why it made its mark on me. While walking around the East End, I am stuck by its beauty and how it seems to blend in and match the attitude of the neighborhood.

Me, hanging around Shoreditch.

Me, hanging around Shoreditch.

YU NO put more colour in the LDN streets?

YU NO put more colour in the LDN streets?

Street artist Thierry Noir attempts to put some colour into Londoners' life offering them flowers.

Street artist Thierry Noir attempts to put some colour into Londoners’ life offering them flowers.

Just around the corner, when you enter from the Liverpool Street end is a building covered in work by street artist Ben Eine.

Just around the corner, when you enter from the Liverpool Street end is a building covered in work by street artist Ben Eine.

MUSIC

Have you ever thought of music being more than just sound? To me it’s way more than that. Music can spark any emotion. We all have stories and memories tied to songs that have become a part of who are, because music plays an integral part of shaping our identity as we mature through life. Anyway, music puts colour into our lives!

If not David Bowie than who, when it comes to colour. Well, I reckon orange is one of the main accent colours since it has appeared at many stages throughout Bowie’s career: the hair of Ziggy Stardust, the Aladdin Sane flash, the covers of Low, Heathen and Scary Monsters….wow David does love orange!

Bowiemania has come to town at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Bowiemania has come to town at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

A love affair between flamboyant fashion and music has never been hotter at V&A.

A love affair between flamboyant fashion and music has never been hotter at V&A.

The V&A Chandelier by Dale Chihuly

The V&A Chandelier by Dale Chihuly

Ziggy, biffy tote and I in Brixton.

Ziggy, biffy tote and I in Brixton.

STREET FASHION

Taking a walk through the city streets, I’d quickly see that people have a unique and well-thought out sense of style – one that impresses with or without being overstated, people capable of some truly awe-inspiring sartorial selections. Whether it’s vintage dresses down by the waterfront, old cardigan sweaters tossed over the famed little black dress on a chilly evening, or men’s clothing inspired by the concept of hacking, they wear it. And they wear it damn well.

However, beyond these colours, a parallel world exists within London, a reality away from the opulence, the speed and the cosmopolitan daily routine. Another London. But more about it in upcoming posts…. Mon the biff!:)



Catalina Serban

I came into this world on a cold morning of January in a small town in the south of Romania. So that, I really enjoy dressing for winter. Layering up a winter look is very challenging and creative process, isn't it? I moved to London coz everyone wears bright colors. And I love colors. In Bucharest, everybody is in black! When I was in my late teens, I was really into hair; I dyed it different colors and had loads of haircuts. After graduating marketing in Bucharest and working for a couple of years in advertising, I've taken up fashion art direction, here in London. As John Galliano observes, London is the essence of fashion, it is the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Hunger, curiosity and its eclectic, electrifying surroundings make it very inspiring. Some people call me a rebel, but I just feel like I'm living my life and doing what I want to do. Aaaaa foremost, I never go out without my biffy tote :)

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