‘Pity the selfishness of lovers: it is brief, a forlorn hope; it is impossible.’ – Elizabeth Bowen
Break-ups are never fun, and in London they can be pretty lonely too. The holding-back-tears-in-the-office days are inevitable, but it doesn’t mean you have to be a hermit in your own city.
If you’ve just had your heart broken, I prescribe you hold back those tears and let London be your distraction and your cure. There’s a millions ways to sing the blues, and here are 12 ways to beat them….
1. Find some blossom
Plum, cherry and magnolia blossom trees are on every corner at the moment. Start your day with breakfast al fresco under the nearest blossom.
2. Take in Christopher Wren’s greatest achievement
There are contemplative spots all around St Paul’s Cathedral in its churchyard and courtyards, as well as lots of quiet gardens across the City itself.
3. Lose yourself around Tate Modern
Monumental inside and out. Wander round the Wolfgang Tillmans show, featuring a vast array of his photography, from beautiful starry nights and still life close-ups to nights out, nudity and political works, documents and news clippings. £12.50 inc donation, until 11th June.
4. Catch a film
5. Stumble on art
Finding artworks in surprising places is easy to take for granted in London. If discovering hidden street art is your thing, head to Shoreditch and enjoy a free street art tour with Strawberry tours. From 3.30pm each on selected days, donation expected.
6. Colour something in
Colouring stuff in is a bonafide way to distract yourself. Pop into any Apple store, open up a colouring book on a MacBook or iPad and indulge in decisions no harder than choosing what your next shade of pastel green will be. Oh Bambi.
7. Incoming at Barbican
The Brutalist architecture isn’t for everyone, but I love Barbican for its Monday Madness cheap films, marvellous conservatory and for unique exhibitions, like Richard Mosse’s five star show Incoming, on right now in the Curve Gallery. Mosse used military thermal surveillance technology to uncover the everyday lives of refugees living on the margins of society in overcrowded, makeshift camps. Free, until 23rd April.
8. Dinner at Ducksoup
There are hundreds of restaurants and bars in Soho, but Ducksoup is worth singling out for its lovely atmosphere as well as delightful food and drink. Recent deliciousness included a rhubarb and cardamom ‘shrub’ cocktail, hake with Tokyo turnips, fresh gnocchi fritters with wild garlic butter and thick labneh yoghurt with dukkah and sourdough bread. 41 Dean Street. Takes booking for 3+ people.
You can’t fail to notice the vibrancy of Chinatown, its bustling streets, food smells everywhere and the sounds of buskers. After soaking up the street vibes, visit Chinese supermarket Loon Fung and stock up on a magnificent array of teas, sauces, snacks, dim sum and ingredients. Or head into Chinatown Bakery on Newport Place for some of their famous custard fish.
With spring creeping in, load up with fresh ingredients and make something new. I had a go at making a Thai coconut fish curry recently, using fresh chilli, lemongrass and coriander.
11. Buy yourself flowers
Columbia Road is the flower market everyone goes to and even on a drizzly day it’s rammed at lunchtime. Beautiful as it is, they know their popularity and charge accordingly so I’ll be lining up in Vauxhall instead at the New Covent Garden flower market which recently opened. From 4-10am on weekends.
12. See your favourite band
For me: Cat Power. Always wanted to see her but missed lots of chances over the years. The minute I saw she was performing in Islington in March I snapped up a ticket. I went by myself which was a bit daunting but she was marvellous and nailed it.
Proof you don’t need someone holding your hand to have a good time in London.