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The Market Porter pub, Borough Market, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013

When I lived in the UK, pubs were a big part of my social life — the meeting place of choice for most of the people I knew. A “swift half” at lunchtime; “a few drinks” after work; “Sunday lunch” — all became part of the fabric of my world. While I entertained, and was entertained by, friends from the ex-pat community at home, my English friends seemed to prefer, or just expect, that meeting to socialise took place on neutral — licensed — territory.

Pubs are such an integral part of British life, certainly as I experienced it. Even the smallest hamlet seemed to have at least one pub. One town  I lived in had 17 within easy walking distance. I never did explore them all, but it was obvious that each had its own character, including a few that seemed to exist solely as a meeting place for a tiny, quite specific community.

South bank skate spot, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013

South bank skate spot, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013

The undercroft of London’s Southbank Centre is a famous skate spot; a meeting place for that community of young (mainly) men who — like the boychild — love skateboarding. Decorated with fabulous-coloured graffiti, the area is a kind of spiritual home for London skaters.

Picidilly, London. Photo: Tony Gray, 2006

Shaftesbury Monument Memorial Fountain, Piccadilly, London. Most famous for the statue on top, commonly thought to be the Greek god, Eros, but actually intended to be Eros’s brother Anteros – sometimes referred to as The Angel of Christian Charity. Photo: Tony Gray, 2006

While pubs and skate parks are meeting places in the sense of people gathering to share in communal activities, most areas of human habitation also contain landmark spots which, because of some distinctive feature that makes them easy to describe and identify, become quite literally places to meet. One of these is the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus, which tops a memorial foundation built in 1992, in commemoration of Lord Shaftesbury. The statue was created by Alfred Gilbert, and was one of the first to be cast in aluminium. Like the Lions in Trafalgar Square, Eros is so recognizable that it’s an ideal place to arrange to meet.

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Embankment Tube Station on Villiers Street, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013

Rail, subway and bus stations are also popular and logical meeting places. Be warned though, when you agree to meet someone at the entrance to a tube station, make sure you agree WHICH entrance. I once missed a meeting because I was waiting for a colleague (who knew where we were meant to be going) at an entrance/exit to Bank Station. I didn’t realise there are about eight of these, and assumed he’d emerge from the same one as me.  I was wrong!

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Arrivals hall; Auckland International Airport. Photo: Su Leslie, 2013

Airports,  especially international terminals, are quite a special kind of meeting place. They are huge, brightly-lit public spaces where normally reserved people will break free from the crowd and burst into tears at the sight of loved ones from who they may have been separated for a long time. I don’t know who the man in the photo was meeting, but I hope that he or she appreciated the flowers.

Meeting Places is this week’s Travel Theme at Where’s My Backpack. Pop over to see Ailsa’s wonderful photos.



Travel theme: meeting places

13 thoughts on “Travel theme: meeting places

  1. lovely photographs and memories. Made me quite nostalgic… I remember when my man came back from 6 long months away. We ran into each others arms, and customs had to tear us apart. (We were at an Air Force base which has a different system than civilian airports) 🙂


  2. Bank Station – yepp, lots of exits there! Under the Clock at Waterloo used to be a common one. Apparently the Lover’s statue in St.Pancras is now popular for meets – it’s big enough to be seen and that part of St.Pancras never gets crowded 🙂

    Sadly the traditional British Pub is an endangered species – In my small part of London alone 5 have closed and been demolished in the last 15 years. A couple of shop conversions have opened on the high street as pubs but they don’t have the same atmosphere of an old pub.


    • I don’t know St Pancras station at all 😦 I moved back to NZ before it was properly refurbed. I had heard that pubs were closing down, and I did notice when I was back last year that there seemed to be fewer of the small independent pubs — and more Witherspooons and American-type bars. Such a shame as I have very fond memories of wandering down the road to “the local” for a pint. Never wine – even though I’m a wine drinker – because it was invariably shit!


    • Thank you Lee-Anne; I am flattered. I’ve been thinking I need to develop a policy on awards, so this is my chance to think about it properly. It is so lovely to receive compliments, and I do enjoy writing about myself! I have found that passing it on is a bit of a double-edged sword. So thank you again 🙂


      • Yes I know exactly what you mean, Su. I haven’t accepted any awards prior to this one because they involve soo much thought and work (and I’m a very lax blogger!)

        But this time I couldn’t refuse Vic Briggs’ delightful ‘baton’ – it would’ve sounded ungracious somehow.

        And nominating bloggers is always tricky as you don’t want to offend anyone (but inevitably do).



      • NZ is a destination…where you may not have the vibe of the UK pubs (a week trip from the States just to visit the pubs is a worthwhile venture), from what I’ve heard there are natural beauties in NZ like no other. Would like to spend a lot of time and hike there. Not a bad alternative 🙂


  3. NZ is a pretty beautiful place. Guess when you live somewhere, it tends to be in a largely human environment (unless you’re a farmer or similar), so the natural beauty seems as distant to most city dwellers here as it does to people overseas. 🙂


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