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How to deal with London’s Wintery Downpours

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Published 15 December 2009

It has been raining a lot recently, but I’m sure no Londoner – native or temporary – will need to be reminded of that; and please don’t mention those shots of sunshine purely designed by some higher force to trick you into leaving your umbrella at home!

Be that as it may, as these incessant downpours come at a time where, personally, I would like the sun to show up a bit more (I have recently moved into London leaving the dull life of a commuter behind and would now like to explore my new home without getting soaked, wishing to be back in the hot tumble dryer that is a peak time train), I have come up with a two-fold strategy to get what I want (my slice of London life) without getting what I don’t want (wet).

Raining in London

Part one of my plan is to hail London’s tube system and its underground tunnels and walkways as a chief tourist attraction: It is (mainly) dry, extensive and for a whole day out (or rather under) a travelcard isn’t too expensive. Or, alternatively, I could stand by the ticket barriers like a TFL insider, enjoying a quiet sneer at anyone who doesn’t manage the tricky combination of the oyster card swipe and dashing through the open barrier. The tube also boasts its very own network of live music, presenting the noble busker on his or her half circle of plastic taped stage. Sometimes these fleeting acoustic encounters are like spotting a precious pearl tucked away from the outside world in an underground cave. They make you want to stay and listen, forcing you to resist the urge to walk backwards on the escalator. Others, in contrast, are a great motivation to race on by. And then there are those who create little peculiar moments in time which you would like to copy and paste in your mental album of collectable occurrences. As I was walking through the tunnels connecting South Kensington Station to the nearby museums the other day, I passed a busker of this third kind. Propped up next to a couple of speakers (as bulky as old, how he got them there remains a mystery), he was fiddling away happily on his violin to some taped accompanying music. Just as I was walking past, there was a slight pause in the music, a cricklecrack and then it jumped back, repeating the next few seconds only to then jump again. Not wanting to miss his reaction, I slowed down and witnessed one fine piece of busking crisis management. He kept on playing and produced one of the best violin imitations of a crack in a record ever to be heard in London’s underground or even, I dare say, anywhere, under- and overground alike.

Resurfacing into London’s dripping overground, we now come to my second plan: Speeding up the process of finding my new local. The current favourite, and I don’t think I’m rushing things here, if I say “winner”, is the Albion on Hammersmith Road. This haven of a pub does much to soothe the drenched walker’s soul. Its selection of ales on tap reconciled me at once with the liquid element. They also serve a range of crispy thin base pizzas along with the usual crisps, nuts & pork scratchings. Burgers may be enjoyed for lunch and traditionalist will be glad to hear that Sunday Roast may be got once a week. All of this can be enjoyed in a warm and comfy atmosphere, lounging on the sofa in the recently refurbished upstairs, or spying on the downstairs from the top of a spiral staircase. Downstairs is the place to be, if you fancy being closer to the classic jukebox heavily featuring the Beatles or to the live bands on Fridays. I have yet to experience Monday’s quiz and Tuesday’s film nights. However, I already feel that no excuse is needed to return to the Albion and to join the relaxed and on a Friday night slightly crowded gathering.

I might even choose to brave the cold, wet rain!

Written by Katharina Schulz