When you’ve lived in London a long time (or say, your entire life), you like to think you’re original. You think that when a friend comes to visit the big city for the first time, you’ll be able to show them the real London, the one with the elusive cheap beers and the lock-ins and underground gigs from bands that are part of a subculture so raw it doesn’t have a proper name yet. But you know, in your heart of hearts, that when that friend comes to visit, you’re going to take them straight to the South Bank. You’ll spend close to £10 on a thick wrap that will later give you indigestion, flick through the books on the stalls outside the BFI, and stroll along Queen’s Walk. You’ll both stop and stare at the Thames, wrongly guessing the names of the buildings across the water, and just for a second, you’ll feel like you’re visiting London for the first time, too.
Is that too much romanticising? Apologies. It’s been a long lockdown, and we weren’t prepared for quite how much we’d miss the South Bank. For anyone else that feels equally distressed by the current inability to eat wraps on a stone bench on Queen’s Walk, we have some good news: the Southbank Centre’s Street Food Market is going to reopen on April 30. That means you can arrange to meet another human by that big bust of Nelson Mandela, and spend an afternoon choosing between Korean BBQ, absurdly rich Truffle burgers, Oh My Dog! hot dogs or a nice sickly Nutella crêpe. If you can’t wait until April 30, Jimmy’s BBQ Club will be doing takeaway drinks and food from the beginning of Phase 2, on Monday April 12.
Finally, you can do something other than ‘go for a walk’. You can eat, you can linger. You can watch a street performer create bubbles the size of a beach ball, and point out that little graveyard of broken skateboards below Golden Jubilee Bridge. It’s a chance to get that long-overdue reminder that you don’t just live in a living room, you live in a HUGE CITY, and it’s pretty great.
In other market news, Covent Garden is getting a load of new outdoor tables.
Confused about what’s reopening for April? All you need is a Phase 2 Starter Pack.