Anyone paying attention to my “fitness” (term used loosely) updates will know that I am currently living in Kent, in Southeast England. Having said that, I seem to spend the majority of my time in London, where I was at university last year and where most of my friends are currently living. I also work in Hertfordshire several days a week, meaning that I have to pass through the city to get to the office. I intend to increase this time by moving there permanently soon. With that in mind, travel is going to have to be on hold for the time being.
Whilst being in London may not be travel for me, it is for millions every year, so I’m going to make the most of having access to one of my favourite cities in the world and start finding some of the city’s gems.
For Christmas, my mother bought me a book called “Tired of London, Tired of Life: One thing a day to do in London” by Tom Jones. That’s 365 things to do in London. Now I can’t promise I’ll get to them all- particularly because London is not cheap and I have little monies- but I will try to cross as many off as possible.
So, to start things off, I figured I should post about the things from the book I have done so far.
#1: Shelter in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
The modern art gallery is housed in the former Bankside Power Station, which was transformed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. The building itself, in particular the postively huge entrance hall, is as much on display as the exhibits. Although I am a Renaissance girl at heart, the Tate Modern is one of my favourite galleries. Simply, because I find wandering around and trying to interpret the abstract images fun.
#2: Meet the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum
I’ve been going to London since I was a kid (in fact, I was actually born there- although I cannot claim to be an actual Londoner, having been in Kent since I was one year old) and one of my earliest memories is seeing Dippy the Diplodocus in the Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum, where it has greeted visitors as they entered the museum since 1979. From 2017, Dippy is to be replaced with the skeleton of a Blue Whale. Whilst I’m sure that it will be impressive- and I fully intend to go and check it out- it won’t quite be the same. Having said that, I don’t doubt that I’ll love the museum just as much as I always have and you’ll still be able to find dinosaurs in there.
#3: Seek out Aphrodite
This is what the book recommends as the Valentine’s Day activity: find the Ancient Greek goddess of love. In the British Museum, she can be found in marble, crouching down at a bath. I’m not sure whether this is the most romantic thing to do in London (although as a Ancient Greek-nut it probably would be for me) but she is definitely worth seeing. As is the entire museum.
#4: Browse the Southbank Centre Book Market
My old university was conveniently around the corner from the Southbank. Although I’m not working around there anymore, I still find myself there more than anywhere else, mainly making my way through the many restaurants and the weekend food market. However, food is not the only thing on the menu. The second-hand book market is there daily and, on a nice day, there is nothing better than wandering by the river (a pretty good activity in itself) looking for an interesting read.
#5: See the ‘Unlucky Mummy’ at the British Museum
Many of the best museums and galleries in London are free and the British Museum is no different. It’s one of my favourite spaces in the city and one of the places I like to go if I have some time to kill and fancy a wander. The Ancient Egyptian exhibit is probably my favourite and although I don’t specifically recall seeing the Unlucky Mummy (I don’t think it’s the one in my picture)- so-called because it has apparently been linked to several mysterious deaths- but considering the amount of times I have been to the Mummy Room, I actually cannot have missed it.
#6: Eat at the Hummingbird Bakery
This is something I hadn’t done until the autumn just gone, when I first ventured into Portobello Market, and I cannot believe I wasted so many opportunities to gorge on their absolutely divine (and that is not a word I have ever really used) cupcakes. As far as I’m concerned, you cannot beat a good cupcake. I had no idea what to choose so I copied my friend- chocolate with a gooey centre and thick, creamy white icing- and I was not disappointed.
#7: See the lights on Oxford Street
I have never seen the switching on of the lights but I have seen them post-switch. Oxford Street can get disgustingly busy at the best of times but close to Christmas it can be too much. Still, seeing the lights will probably still get you into the festive spirit- at least until you are bashed into by a crowd of crazed shoppers.
#8: Drink wine at Gordon’s Wine Bar
Gordon’s is probably the most recent London gem I have discovered. After a planned meet-up there fell through, I decided to check it out for myself and I am glad I did. Situated close to Embankment Station, it has become the perfect place for me to venture to after my regular dinners on the Southbank. The ground floor is just below street level but it feels further- in fact it reminds of the caves in my old university town of Nottingham. It’s always so busy that I have never been able to actually get a table inside. That’s slightly annoying since I found it in winter but surprisingly I have never really felt cold as I sheltered in the covered area outside. Even without a wine-jacket. Besides, it’s worth a slight chill.
#9. Watch a show at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
This is something I almost forgot that I had actually done. As part of my Shakespeare studies at school, I came up to London to watch a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Inevitably it absolutely poured and the play was put on hold as my friends and I made a den out of plastic bags, umbrellas and bags to shelter from the rain. That was surprisingly fun.
#10. Play with toys at Hamleys
As a kid, my parents treated me to a trip to Hamleys after a doctors appointment in the city. It sure was a treat- floors upon floors of toys upon toys. It’s basically Disneyland. Y’know, without the rides and characters wandering around. Okay, it is nothing like Disneyland but as a child it is almost as exciting.
And that seems to be it! 23 years of living commuter-distance to London and I have managed ten out of 365. I guess I’d better get cracking.