I've earnt my living as a writer and editor since I arrived in London in 1994, editing a dozen guidebooks on the city for Time Out over the last few years, and writing for many more across the best part of a decade. I've also written London-focused articles and reviews for publications including the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and Time Out magazine.
Why the London obsession? When I was growing up, it seemed that whatever was happening, was always happening here. Wide-eyed half-term holidays in the city became a different kind of wide-eyed for weekend escapes as I got older, and eventually I gave up resisting and settled down here.
I haven't found my fortune, but I've never left and I've never got bored of this fascinating, endless, often frustrating, always rewarding city.
Where I always grab a coffee/tea/hot chocolate: Tea Smith on the northern edge of Spitalfields Market. It isn’t somewhere for a builders’ brew, but the counter in this gourmet tea shop is my favourite place in London to calmly sip perfectly prepared rare green and white teas.
My favourite stroll: North up the Regent’s Canal from the Thames at Limehouse Basin. Branch off up the Hertford Union to see the stadiums of the 2012 Olympic Park, or follow the towpath all the way round - past buzzing Broadway Market - as far as London Zoo and Camden.
Books for inspiration: Peter Ackroyd’s London: The Biography is never off my bedside table, but unless you’re a bodybuilder it’s too big and heavy to pack. Michael Moorcock’s Mother London and Jeremy Gavron’s An Acre of Barren Ground got me looking with fresh eyes at bits of the city I’d seen a hundred times before.
Great London films: Michael Winterbottom's Wonderland, which elegantly catches the grubby beauty of Soho, and film noir Night and the City, for the stunning opening scene of Richard Widmark running across the steps in front of St Paul's Cathedral.
The most breathtaking view: My favourite changes each year, sometimes several times a year, but it’s currently the top of Wren’s Monument. I love staring down into the heart of the historic City of London, then out in all directions to take in the full messy spread of Greater London. After climbing the 311 spiral steps, there’s an incentive to make the most of it too!
The best spot for some peace and quiet: Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park - the cemetery is now a nature reserve, full of dark trees and crazily over-the-top Victorian gravestones.
Shopaholics beware: Brick Lane - cheap fashion, great London books, snacks, vinyl and some of the best people-watching in town.
City soundtrack: 'Waterloo Sunset' by the Kinks still hits the spot, no matter how many times I hear it, but Burial’s broodingly beautiful album Untrue is London now - an electronic soundtrack for the nightbus home.
Don’t leave without... eating a meal at St John. Top-quality ingredients, simply cooked, served in relaxed surroundings.