London is not a city you think of when you first think of peace and quiet – but if you know where to look, that’s exactly what you’ll find.
Like any cosmopolitan city, London offers an endless array of scenery to wander. Some days I feel the urge to plunge into a crowd, no doubt buoyed by the energy of a caffeinated breakfast. But more often than not, I seek out the neighborhood streets, the ones just past the main roads that offer a glimpse into everyday life.
If you push your way past the ever-present crowd at Harrods and slip off of Brompton Road, you’ll find yourself safely deposited within the sanctuary of one of my favorite wander-spaces in all of London: the Kensington mews. It is here that the heavy sounds of cars and city life fade into the background, replaced with the sounds of birds and quiet footsteps. It is here that you can truly be lost.
So go without an agenda. Take the time to enjoy the curve of the streets, to take in the stacks of prim white houses with their black wrought fences and house numbers posted on impossibly bright doors. Tucked between these are the secret gardens – ivy-covered alleys that seemingly spiral into nothing but leaves and brick.
If you walk long enough, you’ll discover things: fall, sprung brilliantly on the wall of a house; a church that predates each building around it by a century or more; a cat, trotting behind you for a few steps before retiring to a patch of sunlight. As you walk, you’ll pass people. Some are out doing the same thing as you, but most are out because that’s business as usual. The dog needs to be walked, the children brought to school, the lunch meeting to be kept.
When you’ve had enough, when the silence starts to get to you and you begin to crave the energy of a crowd, turn a right and a left, walk a block, and re-emerge. Blinking and a bit dazed, you’ll catch up soon enough.
Welcome to the mews.