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Covid’ing London, A Love Story

When we look back at the Spring of 2020 whilst we will all be able to relay the same facts, every one of us will have a different story to tell.

My story is one of LOVE. Love for my home and everything that makes it. 

Though I have, like all of us I’m sure, missed seeing my friends and family dearly, being forced to ‘slow down’ has allowed me to re-kindle a love that I had sadly neglected. My love for London.

I moved here over 12 years ago now, from a small town called Grantham in Lincolnshire to ‘follow my dreams’ and whilst my city life has had it’s ups and downs I’ve never once regretted my decision to move here (despite what my current bank balance may tell you;)).  I’ve had the most amazing experiences as a resident in our capital and whilst I can tell you the best restaurants, bars and hang-outs if you were to ask me the best places to ‘go for a walk’ my recommendations would have been shamefully slim.  

During these last couple of months of having an inability to ‘escape’ and mandatory restrictions on our allocated time outside I haven’t pressured myself into productivity, I’m not learning a new language or developing another side hustle, I’m doing the one thing the universe has been begging me to do for the last few years. I’m stopping to smell the roses. 

As my boyfriend and I both live alone we’ve had the luxury of being able to isolate at both of our homes and that means travelling from East to West on almost a daily basis. With our one hour of exercise we’ve been biking and jogging back and forth from Earls Court to Aldgate and I’ve loved every single step and cycle!

Whilst I’ve always loved cycling as a sport and mode of transport when travelling the fear of hopping on to bike in central London had always put me off ever riding through my own city.  I’ve rode on a second hand motorcycle in Vietnam, navigated a truck in Miami, driven a questionable  smart car on cliff edges in Zante and yet, if you asked me to hire a bike in London my answer would have been a swift  ‘no thanks, I value my life!’. 

Whilst as I walked the 13km back and forth from East and West I noticed the roads were serenely sparse and open so a few days into our lockdown I took the plunge and hired a cycle for the very first time. 

In London we are lucky enough to have the easy and affordable option of hiring a bike. The city cycles which are familiarly now known as Santander bikes are based all around the city. You pay just £2 for 24 hours hire from one of the many docking stations. All you need is a bank card and you follow the easy instructions on the kiosk to release a bike for the day. 

With the clear roads I have been able to ride with a freedom and ease I know could never otherwise exist in such a busy city and it’s been the most rewarding exercise.  I’ve been riding through the empty streets with a childlike grin on my face and though I can’t wait for the world to ‘return to normal’ I’m going to miss being able to ride when it does! 

Turns out our city is far more equipped for those favouring two wheels over four than I realised. We have a collection of cycle highways that make riding on the roads so much more appealing and safe, I’ve personally been hitting the CS3 which takes just 25 minutes to get from Buckingham Palace to Tower Hill, the highways even have their own traffic light system, it’s fantastic.

On top of my city rides I’ve taken up jogging as a means for a more cardio focused exercise, it all started when I was nominated  for the 5 for 5 challenge on social media (the idea of which is you run 5K and donate £5 towards helping the NHS during this pandemic) and now I’ve actually been enjoying trying to run further and faster each day. If you would have told me I’d be running 10K on a regular basis just two months ago I would have laughed and fought back but alas, I’ve just ordered two new running tops! 

I’ve spent the last few years discovering the best places in over 40 different countries but being forced to stay home has made me appreciate my own so much more.  I have always been someone who slots in daily exercise, whether that’s a Barre class at lunch or a HIT routine before dinner but having a specific time to ‘be outside’ has been such a wonderful gift and one I would have never even known to ask for. 

Having the time of not needing to be anywhere at a specific time has allowed me to wander down that path I wouldn’t have wandered before or cycled a lane I would have just gazed at a few months ago, its allowed me to explore my own extended city garden and fall in love with the city I work so hard to be a part of!  

There’s no question that Covid 19 has been devastating and had so many catastrophic effects on all our our lives but despite all the negatives, I for one have enjoyed falling in love all over again. 

I hope that, in some way, the virus has had (even if just for a moment) a positive effect on you x 

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