It used to be that I'd go to London with some kind of itinerary, even just a vague one - some record shopping here, a gallery or two there (not least a wander around Cork St), perhaps some sightseeing.
During college days when the Tate was all one gallery (as opposed to Tate Britain & Tate Modern) and when we'd be heading down to see specific shows, a few of us would always eat a big fry-up in a lovely cafe a few minutes' walk away. In the end, eating at the cafe became synonymous with a visit to the Tate.
In more recent years when I've usually headed down on my own, I've followed the same very loose plan: do a couple of specifics and then let the rest of the day just take its own shape. On my return from a stroll round the halls of the Tate Modern, I tend to find myself taking a relatively lengthy walk around and over the river and through Embankment tube station.
There's a nice, fairly cheap noodle bar just near there, takeaway only. It slowly became the stuff of habit - if not ritual - to pick up a carton of deliciously spicy food from this place after such a walk. Summer or winter, rain or shine, I somehow find that I would rather stand up and eat my food from the carton - whether sheltering under a tree or sitting overlooking the adjacent park - than to go to a cafe or a pub and eat sitting comfortably down.
Yesterday I decided, snap decision, that I'd head down to London. On the train journey, I realised that it's reached the point where the only clear thing on my agenda was getting a takeaway from this particular noodle bar, and that was what I really looked forward to.
Straight out of Marylebone, caught the tube to Embankment, and felt utter contentment when I ordered a spicy pork dish with noodles, eating them whilst leaning up against a wall, under a tree to shelter from the light rain.
I was then left to wonder exactly what I was going to do with the rest of the day. Not that I struggled to find ways to fill my time down there, but post-noodle it didn't really matter: I'd had my fix.