A few of my favourite things: London

My first time in London, I was 16. Ready to fall in love. Ripe for an epiphany. And the epiphany was this: one day I would live here, in this global city.  One day I would be a Londoner, and walk with quick, sure, knowing steps through the winding, maze-like warren of tube stations, down cobble-stoned streets in the Square Mile. I would build a collection of brollies to lose on red doubledecker buses, eat Cornish pasties on the go, find refuge from peasouper days in historical pubs offering crackling fires. One day, I would move here and get to know this great city like a second skin.

One day, nine years later, I did just that.

Here are a few of my favourite London things.

Big Ben
Big Ben

Free museums

The British, the Natural History, the National Gallery, the Tate, the V&A – there is such a wealth of museums in London that my mind spins at how much art, history, and design is available, and all for the grand price of exactly £0. Donations are appreciated, but you choose how much you want to give, rather than have an entry price enforced on you. I loved visiting the British, going back in time, 5,000 years ago, to the height of Pharaonic civilisation, or to the Natural History, with it’s neo-Gothic architecture, or to the National Gallery, to simply find a seat in a quiet corner and indulge in contemplation.

OXO Tower
OXO Tower

South Bank walk

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An absolute favourite on a clear day, this was a weekend staple. We’d get off the tube at London Bridge, walk to Borough Markets, stuff ourselves silly with food while picnicking in the grounds of Southwark Cathedral, then meander past the Golden Hind, a reconstruction of Francis Drake’s ship, along the banks of the river Thames, stop by a riverside pub for an ale, then the Elizabethan Globe, past the Tate Modern, the graffiti and skaters  at Bankside Gallery, browse through the book fair underneath Waterloo Bridge, pass underneath the archways of OXO Tower, and finally find ourselves in the surprising space of Jubilee Park, the Eye above us and the Houses of Parliament across the river.

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Limehouse Marina
Limehouse Marina

Weekend trips to Rome or Paris

I once went to Paris just for lunch, with a friend. It was a short trip. We got off at Gare du Nord and worked our way through the boulangeries of the Marais. I was home in E14 in time for dinner. It’s a first world irony that all most Londoners want to do on a weekend is to escape London. The city is the perfect base to explore Europe. There are plenty of low cost airlines, lots of different routes to different countries, and a short two hour flight will have you in Rome, or Madrid, or Amsterdam. Different worlds, at your doorstep.

Regent's Canal
Regent’s Canal

Vintage shops in East London

Rummaging through the vintage shops in Spitalfields and Brick Lane, you never know what you’ll find. Treasures include a 60s black and white shift dress for £20, a cashmere jumper for £14 and lace-up boots, only £12 – part of the fun is trying on hilarious outfits and trying to convince yourself that you really do need that 70s flare velvet pants – invaluable for ABBA costume parties, surely?

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Regent’s Canal

I lived near the Limehouse Marina, which was a joy in itself, especially on wintry days when the houseboats would be locked in ice and snow, the air hushed like an indrawn breath. But the Marina was the start of Regent’s Canal, which wound its way from NW London all the way to the docks of East London. Perfect for joggers, cyclists and walkers, there were canalside cafes and pubs to stop for refreshments along the way, and plenty of local sights to see.

Have I missed any of your favourite things about London? Do share your thoughts! 

London map

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  1. cookie5683 says:

    The Tate, I spent at least an hour looking at the floor, is by far my fav. of all times in regards to museums. Kew gardens, I spent days, lured me in with the cool spring air and the lush azaleas that are massive in comparison to what I have known them to be. We share a dream. I know that I will rest my bones in London, just have to visit a few more countries till I do.
    Thank you for bringing back the memories of my visits there.

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      1. You’re welcome! I enjoy reading your blog!

  3. Ali says:

    Great memories you have there of London! It is a great city, I haven’t been there for many years and have spent no more than two and a half weeks there in total. So easy to get around, walking and on the tube, loved the atmosphere of the city, especially at Christmas time, with all the fairy lights in the shop windows and lining the streets. So different to Christmas in Australia! Will make it back there again, one day!

  4. Carl says:

    Whilst I’ve never quite warmed to London as much as you yet, I have to say I’d love to try living there just to take advantage of all the many places I could visit from there. Like you say, it’s the perfect base to explore Europe!

    And heading to Paris just for lunch is a perfect example – Who’d have thought that would be possible a few decades ago…? 🙂

    1. I loved heading to Paris just for lunch… it felt so jetset! 🙂 I have always really loved London, even before I first set foot there. You could say I fell in love from afar. There are just some cities that speak to us and make us fall in love. Do you have a city that makes you feel that way?

      1. Carl says:

        I sure do – Barcelona! I love it so much that I went for my 5th visit last month. It’s just perfection for me 🙂

        1. Barca is a beautiful city indeed! Our hearts know where our souls belong.. even if sometimes our heads don’t! Safe travels.

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