It’s funny how we can walk the same routes regularly and yet miss so much. Especially in a city like London.
Are we just busy and distracted, ignorant and unresearched or simply on our way to the optometrist? They say “it’s the journey not the destination”, but every time I hear this I just want to nod my head and think about something else – something a little less clichéd, a little more ‘tell me something I don’t know’. Yet there is a powerful truth in this and they (whoever ‘they’ actually are, Hallmark poets?) are onto something. We tend to assume as a phrase it’s in reference to large scale adventures of our travelling futures, not the roads already well travelled. And that’s where we’re getting it wrong.
I’ve recently been reminded me to keep my eyes up and over the iPhone as I walk and to always chat to the barmen. Find out what I found out here…
As I began moving into London life at the beginning of 2013 it wasn’t long before my fellow Aussie Londoners began moving out. Well, that says a lot about our friendship, doesn’t it? No, actually, it says a lot about The System. The system of immigration that grabbed my dear friends and their London lives by the scruff, leaving them kicking and screaming all the way home.
Meanwhile as the newbie Londoner, two years seemed like a long time and to me, my friends were just being ungrateful. Or lazy. Or were they? Many of my friends repeatedly told me the same thing, that they weren’t ready to go and that they hadn’t ticked enough boxes. Yet amongst it all they had found some contentment in accepting the inevitable and the excitement of coming home to family and Tim Tams was their consolation prize. I guess they had to embrace it, you can’t exactly fight immigration. My gosh I was smug, but not so much anymore.
As the woman handed my camera back to me I realised she spoke the universal language of photography, too. “So, where are you from?” she asked me as I melted out of my photo pose.
Considering my accent is now somewhat of a western hybrid, it’s a question I’m asked almost daily. In fact, it’s become so regular I consider it a win if I’m mistaken for a born-and-bred Briton. Depending on how many cocktails I’ve had or which nationality I’m in the company of, I’ll admit, I can be a bit of a subconscious voice chameleon. But usually newbies still figure out I’m from the Southern Hemisphere and most earn bonus points for pinpointing the Antipodes. It’s at this stage I delight in telling them that I am actually a bona fide Londoner, not because I’m ashamed of my heritage (gosh, far from it) but in general I enjoy the sparkle of stepping away from the tourist cliché.
It’s Halloween today and I want to play ball. I’ve been far too busy lately to carve a pumpkin (also, I’m hopeless with knives), too frugal to fork out a costume (if you do it, it needs to be done fabulously) and something tells me I’m a little too old to knock on doors for sweets (creepy with or without a costume). Excuses, me?
Still, it’s time to get festive and embrace the celebration the way Hallmark intended. But why go trick or treating when there are so many tricks and treats here, in this backyard of the city so many of us call home? In the spirit of all things Halloween, here are five tricks and treats to help you on your way in London Town.
Ok, so I realise this isn’t technically a ‘London Thing’, but it’s just too fabulous not to mention.
Yesterday I was treated to a day out on the Isle of Wight with a fabulous Australian wine company. To get there, I trained it to Southampton from Waterloo (about an hour journery) then jumped aboard a high speed rib to coast along to Cowes, as you do. Also, I had an absolutely amazing time, which in my experience is very important.
I’m very fortunate that I seem to have some fabulous travelling friends who occasionally like to drop by London Town and say G’Day (they are mostly Australian, after all). During said travel, at a certain point they also like to visit places much more exhilarating than my terrace (go figure). My go-to POI is The Shard, but not just because it’s Europe’s tallest building and flaunts the wow factor like nobody’s business. My reason is far less cliched and will delight all Champagne travellers on a beer budget.
I’ve visited The Shard more times than I have any other London icon – with the exception of Top Shop, naturally – and I’ve never paid for it. Excitingly, if you like cocktails, you don’t have to either. One of my favourite London tips is this: buy one cocktail, get the Shard view for free. And that sounds like a very happy hour to me.
Not that there isn’t one million amazing things to do in London or anything, but my new favourite thing is riding the bus. (I do have a fulfilling life, I promise).
I’m a Tube girl, generally. I love the speed and convenience of the Underground network but sometimes while there is no waiting on certain lines, there are a hellavalot of delays on others. Like last Monday. Monday was the Game Changer.
It’s back to school time today, and thankfully not in a Billy Madison kind of way. Instead of an apple I have a Mac and instead of recess I have lunch reservations, so study is looking a lot more fun this time around. My playground of choice is Cambridge University’s short course in Early Tudor History 1485 – 1558 where I hope to bring to life the stories that took place on my English doorstep.