With plans for the upcoming May bank holiday that looked anything but far-flung, rather than spend the weekend enviously scrolling through my Instagram feed poring over friends’ exotic beach/ food porn/ endless ocean pics, what better opportunity to hop into the brand new Peugeot 208 that I’d been lent for the weekend, and explore the joys of the city minus the commuter hustle (or should that be hassle?) of face-to-armpit intrusions and sweaty, stifling tube carriages? Because the (only?!) great thing about all those people migrating out of London to family homes in the countryside and jetting off on last minute beach breaks is just how peacefully empty the city becomes.
Eschewing the obvious tourist traps and shopping hot spots (I won’t lie, there was enormous temptation when having a boot to fill with shopping bags, rather than having to lug them – even if they are Selfridges’ emblazoned – across London), because the forecast, somewhat surprisingly, was for sunshine – the adventure began the moment we clambered into the car, guzzling down that unbeatable fresh, clean new-car smell!
Ten minutes later, once the boy had gotten to grips with each and every offering from the large 7″ colour touch screen on the dash board (I, of course, was not allowed to place a finger on it!), intuitively hooking up his iPhone Spotify app via audio streaming – super fancy – and successfully mapping out a route via GPS. The journey began.
Given the cloudless blue skies, I was a little disheartened at the prospect of a car journey (even if it was in a super sleek, shiny and comfortable drive), but sat beneath the panoramic glass roof with London’s finest sites passing overhead – the Shard, St. Paul’s, Big Ben and still feeling the sun’s warmth on my skin, we may as well have been driving a soft top – airy, light and bright.
After a quick, but necessary, detour via The Mount Street Deli where we grabbed a rather indulgent picnic basket for two and piled it into the roomy boot we then headed towards Richmond Park and Kew Gardens; both destinations we love but rarely visit when reliant upon London’s busy public transport system, for a day filled with greenery, sweet eats and laid-back spring lounging.
The journey was a delight (although the boy, who was riding as passenger may beg to disagree). The compact Peugeot 208 allowed us to slip easily through the London streets, weaving amongst the traffic with ease (really, who needs a 4×4 in a big city anyway?), whilst a reduced size steering wheel and lowered instrument panel made it somehow more comfortable to drive, taking the emphasis away from the gadgetry and back to the road. The flush-fitting exterior (and city-suited size) meant that even parking; ahem, make that reverse parking, is a doddle. And not even a sharp intake of breath from the other-half!
Sun-baked, fed, watered and saturated with the delights of spring botanicals, we head home.
Driving through the city at dusk, a fit of giggles ensues as I flick on the headlights and the interior lights up with strips of blue LED. It’s a fun touch that perfectly echoes the 208’s subtly-sporty but also feminine, sleek feline aesthetic. And one which I’d thoroughly recommend to any London lady.
Peugeot 208, 3dr from £9,995-£18,045. 5 dr £10,595 – £18,245. GT9 £18,895. www.peugeot.co.uk