Sunny London
Image: Time Out / Ian Macpherson / Alamy

London in the sun is touched by the gods

When drenched in delicious sunshine our capital is genuinely without equal

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Every year there is a turning point.

Just when you think you have finally had enough – when you find yourself Googling ‘where is hot in April’ and ‘UK to Italy visa’ – it happens. 

You wake up one morning and you draw your curtains and you are met not with the sight of your bins against a greying sky, but with that of your bins in the sun – real sun, that looks like it would feel actually warm on your skin, and makes London the greatest place you could possibly be. 

It’s almost a cliché to say that a London summer makes the bad parts of being here (the rain; Old Street roundabout) worth it, but it’s true. Of course, nobody needs to be told that this place is often far from idyllic – it somehow now costs £20 every time you run to the shop for a few bits, after all – but in the summer months, the place crawls with such momentum that if you ever felt sick of it in the winter, you’re rapidly reminded of exactly why you love it. 

When it’s warm, bright and a little bit sweaty, London is unmatched. There’s no competition. I laugh in the face of your little Parises and your New Yorks. I do not need them. I have London and its beer gardens full of people saying ‘go on then’ to a single cig, its gins in tins and aircon on the overground, and its sheer possibility as the nights lengthen outwards.

In the sun, London belongs to its people. It is such an easy place to love.

As soon as the weather lifts, this city is glorious, gilded, touched by the gods. Like, of all of the experiences that makes me feel happy to be alive, walking around London in the sun – lo, in a t-shirt! – is one of them. Going across London Bridge turns from a tourist-congested, escape-room style mission to a full-on film about your life (I honestly half expect ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ by The Pretenders to start playing whenever I set foot on the South Bank between the months of May and September). Your local park transforms from somewhere you take the dog for a quick piss in the drizzle to the blissful oasis at the centre of all of your social engagements (unless your local park is London Fields in which case: I’m very sorry). Workers turn every bit of green into public space because they would rather die than eat their lunches indoors. In the sun, London belongs to its people. It is such an easy place to love.

And if you want to know, here are the specific things about a London summer that I love: I love the smell of charcoal that hovers on the air as soon as it’s hot enough to cook outdoors, I love how everyone starts wearing sunglasses so it feels like each individual person in the city got about five times hotter overnight, I love how crowds line the streets of Soho in the evenings – an Aperol for every man, woman and child! – and I love the guy who DJs out of the jerk stand on Rye Lane and may well be the city’s greatest selector. I just love how happy everyone seems, how pleased they are to be enjoying themselves. I even love it when it’s so hot that the bin bags melt on the street, which makes them look like defeated Doctor Who villains. 

Of course, I am being overly romantic. I hope you will forgive me, and perhaps you might even join me in my sentimentality, as I fantasise about eating suya while I maraud between gatherings, or picking at olives on a roof somewhere where I can see the Shard and will inevitably say ‘Look it’s the Shard.’ It has, as everyone knows, been a long winter, and we are finally turning its corner into the best part of the year – in a city that, when the sun deigns to shine on it, might well be the best place in the world.

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