Time flies they say, as it was hard to believe that it was exactly a year ago since I last visited London- (The last time was the weekend of the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final). The feeling is always the same as I arrive at my tube station – ‘This city is for me’. It may well be the hustle and bustle or the people but there is something about London that leaves me wondering every time – Why don’t I live here?
After arriving in Gatwick Airport, myself and two friends headed straight to the train to get the ‘SouthWest’ train to Clapham Junction. Three tickets cost us 23 pounds, which on balance, was not that bad. The train journey was short and sweet considering it was rush hour. We stood and chatted for the journey which made it feel like it was only a five minute trip. When we reached Clapham Junction – the station was full of people coming home from work and the airport. The hustle and bustle was in full flow.
Thankfully for us, our friend collected us instead of having to queue for a cab but, even if we still had to get a cab, it would have been relatively cheap and a short journey. Ten minutes from the station to the front door.
Upon arrival, and to my delight, we sat down in the back garden for a couple of hours catching up, and having some beers and wine. Sometimes it is the little things that make you really enjoy something and this was definitely one of those.
We then made our way to Clapham high street to grab a bite to eat and then off out for the rest of the night.
It was decided that we would go to the famous BBQ house – Bodean’s. Ireland could with something like this.
It was cheap and cheerful. It worked out at 35 pounds per person between four people. The food was full of flavour, the staff were extremely helpful and engaging with us, which is always an added bonus and to top it all off, it was full, which generated a fun atmosphere for everyone there.
Again, it is the little things.
We made our way 50 yards or so across the road to a pub – the Belle Vue. More alcohol was consumed but even more laughs were had as well.
Again the atmosphere was great in this petit cosy pub. A couple of tables (generally couples) were playing some classic board games – Jenga and Connect Four which caught my eye upon arrival.
After staying there for a couple of hours, we finished off our night down the road in a bar/nightclub called; The Honky Tonk.
Only there for an hour, The Honky Tonk was a bit of fun and the one thing I noticed was that there was mainly young professionals there. It was small, as were the bathrooms. Prepare yourself to queue if you want to go to the restrooms. It was a decent atmosphere but spending the night there is not something I could envisage myself doing, ever.
The Saturday, lunch was booked for 15:30 in ‘No. 32 The Old Town‘ in Clapham. There was a great atmosphere here and it was full inside and out (It was quite mild for the end of October in London) which is always an added bonus.
However, if you have come from Ireland trying to get away from ‘the Irish’, I suggest finding somewhere else as ‘The Old Town’ was full of people from Ireland and is a favourite for them to congregate here.
Seven of us sat down and ate. Four got a Burger (absolutely loved it), two got the Sea Bream (enjoyed it) and, I got the Lemon and Garlic Marinated Chicken Risotto. It was tasty but the size of the chicken on the plate comparable to the price was disappointing.
We left No. 32 roughly at 17:30 and onto ‘The Alexander‘ pub on Clapham high street to watch the Leinster v Connaght game.
I thought we had taken the wrong turn and we were back in Ireland because, Guinness were on nearly every table and, the decor was just like a classic Irish pub – wood everywhere, no music playing and I for one was happy to get out of there once the match was over to go along to a halloween party that we were invited to.
Even though it was halloween, none of us made the effort to dress up. This was something I was thrilled about (it is ok not to like halloween) because I have never been too keen on it and dressing up.
It was a great house party and at one stage, there was about 80 people there. Beer pong was providing the entertainment for the night. Some of the competitive souls were out trying to win a game and this provided some great entertainment.
The night ended at approximately 2:30 am which I was more than happy with!
Sunday was all about relaxing and preparing for the journey home at 19:35. Six of us went go get ‘brunch’ however, with everyone indecisive, we ended up in a pub – The Avalon which served plenty of classic English dishes.
We had to sit in their garden because we failed to make a booking and all the tables inside were either reserved or, full.
My stomach wasn’t able for a pie or a Yorkshire pudding, I ended up getting a pizza with Parma ham, rocket salad and, parmesan shavings.
It turned out to be a great choice because the pizza was delicious and it wasn’t too heavy – something which I was conscious of, as I was hungover!
We strolled back to the house after, relaxing was the aim of the game and later, we got packing for the short journey back to Dublin but, instead of getting the train back to Gatwick (too tired and hungover), we booked a cab to bring us to the airport. One of the best decisions of the weekend as it took an hour to get to the airport. Plus, it was reasonably priced, costing 40 pounds between three of us.
When we planned this trip we were planning on going to a Premier League game between Crystal Palace and Liverpool but tickets were working out at above 150 pounds per ticket. However, it did not dampen our spirits to have a good time, and whatever bar or restaurant we went to, had a warm and welcoming atmosphere – apart from one pub. There is something different to do in London every weekend or the option at least seems to have me thinking that London could become a permanent fixture for me in the foreseeable future.