London: 8 places (slightly) off the beaten track

Here are some of the places that I have been to recently (or hope to go to) and would really recommend. They are neither expensive, nor difficult to get to: you have no excuse!

  1. Battersea Park: Described in hallowed terms as “the most underrated tourist attraction in London” by one friend, the park is home fun activities and events – from Google’s Christmas party to The Telegraph’s Ski and Snowboarding Exhibition. It’s child (both big and small) friendly – with a children’s playground, rowing on the lakes, a land train, cycling and a children’s zoo.
  1. Shoreditch – all of it! It’s so cool! I did not know this area of London existed until I moved here! I recommend Homeslice Pizza (they are too cool even for knives and forks!), the cool pop-ups and pubs in the Old Street Roundabout, and all the overpriced hipster shops.

img_11341

  1. Café in the Crypt: This café – complete with tombs and whipping post – is situated below St. Martin-in-the-fields church, just next to Trafalgar Square. It is incredibly good value, and aims to be as sustainable and local as possible in its food choices: win-win. They also put on a cracking Christmas meal.

img_11351

  1. Colombia Road Flower Market: This year-round market is open on Sunday mornings 8am-3ish and is a real London institution. It’s crammed with stalls, punters, and barrow boys – as well as an ‘oasis foliage and flowers.’ It also boasts some quirky and quaint shops, cafés, and restaurants which are well worth a visit.

img_0637

  1. The Word on the Water: This is the one I have not been to yet! The word on the water is a bookshop on a boat floating somewhere along the Thames – how cool is that? Find out more information here.
  1. Pergola on the RoofA pop up restaurant with a plethora of different eateries – all transformed into a beautiful Nordic forest with all the fairly-lights you could ever imagine. It’s closed now for winter, but keep an eye out on social media for updates – they will be back in the Spring.

thumbnail_fullsizerender

  1. Watch Nice Fish the play: Bizarre. Abstract. Rambling. It’s fun to go see something slightly different; it’s a play more thought-provoking than the standard Mamma Mia performance (mainly trying to figure out what the play is actually about). It’s free to watch if you dress up as a Fish or a fisherman.

  1. Wardour Street, Soho: This street has every kind of food you could ever want. (Yes, dreams can come true) Another amazing- you-have-to-visit restaurant is the pizzeria and Italian bakery, Princi. It’s mainly based in Milan, but has one branch on Wardour Street. It also does deliveries – just FYI.

Yes – most of my favourite things revolved around food. #sorrynotsorry. I am excited to know more of London/eat my way through it, and will keep you updated on my journey!

Next on my list include: Pimlico farmer’s market, Spitafields market, The Word on the Water, and Mildred’s vegetarian restaurant. I will keep you updated!

Where else should I be headed?

London Living: The beaten track

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.

img_11361
Grasping siblings on the Monument

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.

thumbnail_img_0618

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.

Any recommendations?

Tate Modern: a Fishy business

The Tate Modern on the edge of the Thames is an essential visit for anyone passing through London. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • A chance to see THE BEST VIEW OF LONDON from the café on the top floor. No jokes.
  • It will satisfy the concrete architecture aficionado in your life (yes, they exist and will clogg your Instagram feed).
  • It’s FREE.
  • The Tate has some weird and wonderful artwork.
  • Did I mention there’s a café?
  • Your inner art historian/bull s*** skills can be exercised. What is abstracitsm? What does the blue orb with the yellow background represent? What is the meaning of art? I literally have no idea. Please explain.
  • Free Wifi. Always useful – especially when very important decisions such as what’s for lunch and where’s Wagamama’s comes up in conversation.

img_0350

img_0620

img_0362

I went to the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition with some friends – sadly it’s now over and I wasn’t allowed to take pictures. However, some of what I learnt is this. 1. Georgia O’Keefe painted more than flowers. 2. She was good at bright colours. 3. She was good at adding ‘depth’ to landscapes. 4. O’Keefe worked a lot with her husband photographer Alfred Stiegliz. 5. She like to paint the same thing from different angles/at different days. 6. O’Keefe likes things that don’t move.

Portrait of O’Keefe by her photographer husband Alfred Stiegliz

However, the coolest thing was probably the floating fish in the Turbine Hall. We joined the rest of the children enjoying half term to wonder at this floating aquarium and fail to figure out how it works. Visitors can enjoy an immersive experience that includes lying on the floor and enjoying the sounds and sights and the rapid decent of the ceiling. Designed by Philippe Parreno, the work is entitled Anywhen and is open until April 2017. Click here for more information.

img_0622

img_0372

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

img_0368

We then went off to search for some lunch…

img_0343

img_0348

… and enjoy the rest of the day pottering around central London.