Living within the commuter belt all my life has had some benefits. I have been lucky enough that throughout the span of my school-days I have experienced (thanks very much Tesco Clubcard and Southern’s 2 for 1 discounts) the highlights of London’s cultural and historic monuments. Yes, this does include clinging to the railings – totally terrified – at the top of the Monument whilst my younger siblings laughed at me. Living out of London provided a greater incentive for my mother to drag us to all-things-educational in London, in comparison to my cooler, independent, urban-dwelling contemporaries.
As a result of school trips/birthday treats/summer visits, I consider myself experienced when surveying a list London’s principle tourist attractions. I have voyaged aboard HMS Belfast; been bedazzled by the crown jewels at The Tower of London; been inspired by the inner-workings of government at The Houses of Parliament and Supreme Court; been freaked out by the heights of the London Eye; watched someone faint from heat while standing at The Globe; fallen into a puddle ice-skating at Somerset House; and been exposed to ALL the history/literature/art at – I would wager – London’s most famous museums. I even boast wildly and widely that I have completed the ultimate London tourist activity – the London Duck Tours. Twice. (An experience I totally recommend, by the way).
At the time, perhaps, I relished the accompanying Pizza Express/Wagamamas (the two ultimate metropolis treats) more than the culture, I believe these experiences have served me well for later life. I went on to study history at university. All those trips to museums were therefore not a complete waste of time. On reflection, being a tourist in the city I was born in, has encouraged me to explore new places, learn new stories, and – most importantly – my love of Pizza Express has endured too.
However, these experiences were tailored to my mother’s interests (shopping was verboten) and mainly occurred in South London. This has given me the slightly misguided impression that anything above the central line was ‘The North’: nice enough to visit occasionally (Hampstead Heath wasn’t so bad), but – like Yorkshire Tea or Pies – not something that my family were that familiar with.
So, having recently moved to London, I have been attempting to get out and about and navigate my way around the maze of London; this has only been some-what successful.