Posts Tagged ‘autumn in london’

London — By Andrea Kirkby on September 1, 2009 at 2:53 pm
Filed under: autumn in london, fall in london, lord mayor's show

Autumn in London – seven things to do

This year has gone alarmingly quickly. It’s September now, and though the evenings are still light, and the sun is still shining, the quality of the light seems different, and I notice the sunset getting earlier each day.

Which might be a cause for regret in many places. But autumn in London has its own attractions. In some ways, a brisk late autumn day in the Strand or the rustle of leaves in St James’s Park and the smell of mist and wet earth are characteristic of the city – in a way bright summer days aren’t.

Here are a few of London’s autumn attractions.

  • The smell of chestnuts roasting in the street. The one outside the British Museum is a favourite; there also used to be a chap near St Martin in the Fields, just off Trafalgar Square, though I don’t remember seeing him last year. The mingling of the burnt edges with the rich, creamy flesh inside is a treat reserved for autumn – and I look forward to my bag full eagerly.
  • It’s not New England in the fall. But the London parks are superb in autumn, as the leaves turn orange, flaming red, and brown. Walk through the leaves and feel them rustle around your feet; or, if it’s been raining, feel the slushy slide of the compacted leaves underfoot. Particularly worth a visit in my book; St James’s Park early in the morning, for a beautiful sunrise over the strangely exotic buildings of Whitehall, and the Japanese Garden in Holland Park, designed to take full advantage of the seasonal changes.
  • Another favourite walk at sunrise or sunset is along the Thames – wherever you start from. Along the Victoria Embankment and across Westminster Bridge, or along the South Bank, or even out into Docklands. The pearly grey water, mist, pale pink sun or flaming red clouds, give it a ghostly feeling – admittedly rather undercut by the traffic noise.
  • It’s difficult to take a ghost story seriously on a bright summer evening. Wait for the nights to draw in before you take one of London’s many ghost walks – or the macabre Jack the Ripper walks. Richard Jones’s London Ghost Walk takes two hours and explores the back alleys of the City – you may find you can never use that little short cut after dark again!
  • Greenwich tour guides will be taking ghost walks at Hallowe’en – their ‘Walk on the Dark Side’ is all historically documented and quite factual, yet even so they promise it will be utterly scary.
  • The Lord Mayor’s Show happens in November (this year’s will be on November 14th) to celebrate the election of a new mayor for the City of London. (He’s Mayor specifically of the Square Mile – nothing to do with the Mayor of London.) The Guilds parade in their finery – Vintners, Drapers, Wheelwrights, Fanmakers. If you’re into antique pageantry this is the best show London puts on!
  • Get into traditional British food. We don’t do summers very well – a British barbecue is a thing of fear to Antipodeans! – but we do fantastic stodge and big meat dishes to warm ourselves up in autumn and winter. Try Rules, or Simpsons, or the George and Vulture for really trad British grub at a price, or head for a pub to get bangers and mash with a pint of Best Bitter.

Photo by Phillie Casablance on flickr

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