With 5 years of London life under my belt, and with just over 1 year remaining, I’ve come to the sad realisation that I may not even know what London is truly about.
I’ve done a lot of the things one would do here: I’ve seen the inside of many a pub, I’ve probably unconsciously altered the inflections in my speech, and I’ve travelled around global destinations from the 5+ “London” airports. But reality hit me like a lead pipe to the jugular when a friend asked me, “so what are your favourite London music venues?”… and I couldn’t think of anything. How bloody embarrassing.
When friends come to visit London, I get really really excited. You’ll know if you’ve ever visited whilst I’ve been here. I’ll always try to put together a list of things to do, places to explore, adventures to partake. But how much do I reeeaaaalllyyy know? How wise are those nuggets of Londonspiration ???? What is missing that I ignorantly am leaving off??
Therefore, like a true crazy person, I strive to achieve all the following things before Arnie & I leave this incredible city ::
London Jam Series
Visit 50+ London Music Venues
London Park Series
Visit every major park & garden in London
London is one of those European cities you visit where visitors are shockingly surprised at the aesthetics of the low beautifully architected older buildings and of the sheer amount of green space the city has to offer. It’s not a New York City, with massive high rises everywhere – it’s a vast, widespread city, and the amount of gardening that goes on does not leave much left to be desired.
First, let’s talk about the different types of parks you can find in London before I get into the details of the ones I’ll be visiting.
The first type of park you can find in London is the official “Royal Park.” Hey royal fam — we love your bushes! The Royal Parks’s brilliance isn’t limited to just the gardening game; they also are home to unique and historically or architecturally significant structures.
Other types of parks in London can be known as “Commons” or “Heaths.” Not sure if this was an intentionally classist distinction, but hey that’s what we’ve got. I’ve found that the “common peoples’ parks” aren’t typically as beautifully manicured and don’t have as many (or any??) swans! All the swans belong to the Queen. The swans here are also referred to as “pelicans” which is just absurd.
I’m just picturing Charles drowning in the massive beak of a pelican … if someone wants to photoshop that, I wouldn’t object! But I digress. Regardless of nomenclature, the parks in London are big beautiful gulps of fresh air, and I’ll bring as many to you as I possibly can. Here are the ones that I’ll be covering:
- Hyde Park
- The Italian Gardens in Hyde Park
- Green Park
- St. James’s Park
- Kensington Gardens
- Richmond Park
- Bushy Park
- Greenwich Park
- Brompton Cemetery
- Victoria Tower Gardens
- Grosvenor Square Garden
Other Parks & Gardens
- Hampstead Heath
- Battersea Park
- Kew Gardens
- Lee valley Park
- Crystal Palace Park
- Dulwich Park // Herne Hill
- Brockwell Park
- Holland Park
- Wandsworth Common
- Wimbledon Common & Putney Heath
- Blackheath Common
- Barnes Common
- Harrow Weald Common (woods and by car)
- Mitcham Common
- Ravenscourt Park
- Lambeth Palace Gardens (also visit the Garden Museum)
London Dork Series:
Visit all major museums, exhibitions and (interesting) tourist attractions
- Natural History Museum – done!
- British Museum (Tottenham Court Road)
- V&A (South Kensington)
- Museum of London (Barbican)
- National Gallery (Trafalgar Square)
- Tate Britain (across from Vauxhall)
- Tate Modern (London Bridge)
- Science Museum (south kensington)
- Imperial War Museum (Elephant & Castle)
- Saatchi Gallery (Sloan Square)
- Dulwich Picture Gallery (Dulwich)
- Courtauld Gallery (Manet, van gogh, …) (The Strand)
- Sherlock Holmes Museum (Baker Street)
- Horniman Museum (Dulwich)
- Garden Museum (Lambeth – with Lambeth palace gardens)
- Design Museum (high street kensington)
- London Transport Museum (covent garden)
- British Library (Kings Cross)
- National Maritime Museum (Greenwich)
London Ticket to Ride Series:
Take 10 day / weekend trips in the UK from London
- Lulworth & Durdle Door in Dorset – done!
- Notes: there’s an evening session from 5pm at a new spa / bath, not the Roman ones) different swimming pools & wet rooms, good for sunsets. Time with fireworks?
- Virginia Waters // Park
- Stonehenge & Salisbury (car)
- Windsor Castle
- Stratford upon Avon + Warwick Castle
- St Albans
- Kent, Hever Castle
- Leeds Castle (drive)
- Blenheim Palace
- Mayfields Lavender Farm
- New Forest
- Canterbury (with Whitstable?)
- Avebury (strange large circle thing)
- Something in Wales?
- Snowdonia ??
- Snowdon horseshoe
- Other ?
- Surfing lake
- Slate mines ? Arnie to climb
- Huge trampoline scramble net – adults too
- Llanberis pass – high risk driving
- Machynll … something – hippie valley (old retired hippies)
- Place with the most book shops in the world
- Old monasteries (?)
Visit as many London food markets / outdoor food truck locations as humanly & budgetarily possible
On any given day in London, there are about 340598 million fun, exciting, or ICONIC things to do. Within those 340598 million things includes incredible markets, food stalls, festivals, beautiful neighbourhoods, and unique splendours & eccentricities that make London who she really is.
This series of The London Countdown will take you to these lovely Gems that exude personality and diversity. Here’s a list of the upcoming gems that I’ll be tackling, with a full hit list to follow ::
Events & Explorations to be scheduled:
- Carnaby Street – done!
- Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
- Maltby Street Market
- Flat Iron Square
- Borough Market
- Spitalfields Market
- Portobello Road Market
- Columbia Road Flower Market
- Exmouth Market
- Camden Market
- Crystal Palace Food Market
- Southbank Market
- Covent Garden Market
- Brixton Village
- Pop Brixton
- Broadway Market
- Little Venice
- Royal Festival Hall (Southbank)
- Sadlers Wells – Theatre in London, ballet
- Walking tour, medieval things (?)
Wet London Series:
Visit fancy cocktail bars; organise a few pub crawls
London Mad Hatter Series:
Visit 5 swanky / quirky places for high tea
London Sporty Spice Series:
Go to 3 major sporting events – different sports of course