Loftus Road, December 2008. I think I was about five or six years old when my dad first took me to see Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. We were playing West Ham in a largely uneventful game that finished 0-0. Not the most auspicious start to my QPR journey and yet the place had me completely hooked, from the colourful language of the locals and the smell of sizzling burgers, to the team’s gorgeous blue-and-white-hooped shirts (best kit in Britain!) and the compact stadium itself with seats right on the edge of the pitch. As a teen I used to make regular trips in from Buckinghamshire and no matter what crazy corner of the world I lived in I’d always make it back for at least one or two games a season. This shot was taken when I was unexpectedly interviewed before a home match against Watford. I can’t remember what I was asked, or indeed anything I said, but it must have been more interesting than the game itself, another drab 0-0.
Hyde Park, September 2015. Every time I come to London I’m always amazed all over again at how green it is. I try to go and visit a different park each year and I’m nowhere near getting through everything. Hyde Park is the city’s obvious biggie at a whopping 145 hectares. Nabbed from The Church by Henry VIII in 1536, it was initially used for hunting, duels, horse racing and most popular of all in those days, public executions!
Hampstead Heath, April 2017. There are worse things one could do in London on a sunny Sunday afternoon than lying about on Hampstead Heath shooting the shit with an old friend. A sprawling area of open fields, dotted woodlands and rolling meadows; this is yet another London oasis that allows locals and visitors alike to get away from it all and unwind.
Hampstead Heath, April 2017. The heath boasts an impressive three hundred and twenty acres of grassy space and straddles a sandy ridge at one of the highest points of London. Mapping out a walking route to the top of Parliament Hill, my friend and I embarked on a long overdue catch up, stopping here and there for an ice cream and the odd bout of people watching.
Hampstead Heath, April 2017. It was a festival of lazing atop the hill, with scattered groups of people snacking, chatting, laughing, reading and sleeping. When my friend and I get together we tend to talk a lot of intentional crap, as is our way. We’ve had plenty of terrible ideas for screenplays and novels over the years and our Hampstead Heath banter was no different. A young man called Simon finds his life thrown into turmoil when his tennis partner gets abducted by a great white whale! Determined to save his old chum, Simon sets off to confront the beast and save the day. We called it Simon Dick. Probably for the best then that our inane ramblings were interrupted by the sight of children roly-polying down the hill.
Hampstead Heath, April 2017. The views from Parliament Hill aren’t too shabby at all! Cast your eyes across the horizon and you can pick out The Gherkin, The Walkie-Talkie and The Shard, nicely juxtaposed with historic landmarks such as The Palace of Westminster and St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s incredible just how much London is transformed when the weather is behaving and this day was a testament to that.
The Roebuck, April 2017. We’d walked a bit and sat around a lot, which apparently builds up quite an appetite! So on the way back to Hampstead Tube Station we nipped into The Roebuck for a pint. Dating back to Victorian times, this traditional pub on Pond Street features a sizeable lounge and a pretty garden in the back. Ordering our drinks, I couldn’t resist the temptation of a house-baked pork pie served with sweet piccalilli.
Greenwich Market, April 2017. “Let’s meet up in Greenwich!” she said, “I love Greenwich!” And so it was decided. I hadn’t been to Greenwich since I was a kid, with only a vague memory of my dad taking me onboard The Cutty Sark. Back in the present, it was an absolutely gorgeous day and the people were out in full force, strolling along The River Thames, lunching outside Trafalgar Tavern and lying on the grass in front of The Royal Naval College. Greenwich Market was pumping too, with its world food stalls, cupcake stands and organic coffee huts. Meanwhile, in the market’s bustling Admiral Hardy Pub, rosy-cheeked beer-swilling men cheered on their chosen horses as The Grand National got underway on a series of giant screens.