A Summer of Hampstead

‘One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.’

– Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle –

In 2019 I plucked up the courage to work up town for 3 months whilst on a bookshop course for work, which was some what daunting as I’m not naturally a city person. It probably seem silly to some but going out on this adventure was quite a step out of my comfort zone as working in a competitive, loud and busy city was something I never thought I’d be able to do; but I’m so glad I took a leap into the unfamiliar, as I discovered London in a way I never had before and met some amazing people that have become friends.

A Hampstead flower shop I walked past each day; they always had such a beautiful selection of flowers and plants.

One of my favourite parts of spending those months commuting to the capital was finding the courage to be alone in a city and it’s unfamiliar places, discovering it for myself and finding corners of town that I’d never ventured to before. I loved travelling into town a little early so that I could soak in the scenes of the summer sun drenching the houses, streets, stations and parklands of every corner I walked past in it’s morning light and seeing London wake up; families on the school run, shopkeepers preparing for the day ahead, bakeries filling their shelves with freshly baked goods along with the smell of coffee often wafting out of their doors, commuters caught up in the morning hubbub, plants & flowers rising their dewy nighttime heads for a brand new day and little snippets of wildlife that continue to coexist in modern urban surroundings. And although the train journey part isn’t always the most fun, the best bit of the commute by far was the extra time I got to read! I had a few bookish companions that I spent my travelling time with including a few of my favourites of that year – Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris. They were all great travelling companions and enriched the time spent at the beginning and end of the day travelling, and a bonus was I found I was getting through books at a much greater speed than usual (sometimes there’s an upside to delayed trains)!

Whilst working in another bookshop I got to experience a different community of book lovers (and lots of their dogs too!) and a whole new world of reading was opened up to me. My new friends introduced me to different books and new authors (some featured in the first picture at the top) and whilst spending the summer amongst different parts of the city, I got to have a front row ticket to different types of culture and diversity that old London Town so readily hands us, of which I’ll always be grateful for!

But by far the best part of spending my time up in London (apart from my friend serving Rupert Grint – that’s a fangirl moment I won’t ever get over!) was the experience of having extra time with two friends from my home bookshops as well as the new friends I made, meeting some wonderful people, wandering around lots of bookshops together and spending time chatting about all things books and lots of random things! Without having taken this clumsy step into this (albeit) small adventure, I wouldn’t have had this time with these awesome people and wouldn’t have grown the little bit of confidence that this experience gave me.

So every now and then when I’m feeling a little unsure, I try to remember these few bookshop months spent in London over that one summer that was full of quiet adventures. That summer in the city is one that I’ll never forget!

For more photographs taken from this summer, you can find them over on my photography page or by clicking this link. I hope you enjoy them!

For more ramblings, photos and book recommendations, you can find me over on Instagram @viewsfromabookshop

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