When was the last time you explored London before sunrise? Gemma Seltzer and Matthew Hanratty have been doing it a lot lately. They started their blog 5am London as a way to explore another side of the city at a special time between night and day and when the few around people are either having a very late night or a very early morning. Once a month, they set the alarm early, pack a notebook, camera, Oyster cards and navigate night buses to reach a selected destination for their wanderings. We asked them for their five 5am discoveries so far…
‘Night buses. It’s obvious I know, but they’re great aren’t they? Humming along, keeping the capital moving 24 hours a day. We wouldn’t have got very far without them, but they can fill up fast even at 4.45am.’
‘Blackfriars Station with its blue phosphorescent glow. The station in its incompleteness is a sight to behold in the early hours and you can take time to admire it on the bridge without getting in anyone’s way.’
‘Two of our walks have ended with church bells striking 6am – one St Paul’s and St Saviour Pimlico. They bellow clear, crisp and echo away into the still morning – not a person to be seen.’
‘Interaction. The few people there are around on the streets like to talk. 5am-ers are a friendly bunch even if they haven’t had a drink. Those that have tend to be lost.’
‘Radio 4 in the early hours (aka BBC World Service). Getting up at ridiculous o’clock once a month has meant that we have experienced parts of some very fine radio programmes. Peter Day told me that the word ‘IKEA’ is an acronym of its founder’s initials and where he grew up. Who knew?’
Read more early morning stories at 5amlondon.com.