If you take the crowds out of the equation, London is truly magical at Christmas. It sparkles, glitters and gleams with festive cheer from Winterville to Winter Wonderland. Christmas, Yuletide, Noël, call it what you will – the festive season is my favourite time of the year, and I couldn’t resist pulling together a seasonal edition of this series. Last week, Laurence and I headed down to London for a day full of touristy goodness; we hit the streets instead of the sweaty underground trains, and clocked up a whopping 30,000 steps in the process. (More than enough to justify all the mince pies we ate later in the day.) Here’s what we got up to . . .
London is pillar-box red telephone boxes, black cabs and beefeaters. London is world-class museums, theatres and landmarks. London is, quite simply, a treasure trove for tourists. Over the years, I’ve come to know London rather well, though I’d never claim to know it like the back of my hand like the candidates on The Apprentice so often do. If I don’t have my nose in a book or a crossword, I’ll be scouring the pages of Time Out, keeping my eyes peeled for new things to do in the capital. Beyond the blinding lights of Piccadilly Circus, there’s a bounty of lesser-known gems, just waiting to be explored – and that’s where this series comes in. Just as I did for Paris, I’ll be using this series as a means of documenting some old favourites and newly-discovered gems in the Big Smoke.
Just as there’s more to Paris than the Eiffel Tower, there’s more to London than Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus and Buck House (that’s Buckingham Palace for the uninitiated). Central London is a tourist honeypot, with museums aplenty and monuments on (almost) every street corner. Day in, day out the Tube heaves with commuters and pavements become seas of people flooding the capital. Fortunately, you can escape the hubbub by heading for the fringes of Zone 1 (and beyond) for some much needed peace and tranquillity. / Tout comme il n’y a pas que la Tour Eiffel à Paris, il n’y a pas que le Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus et Buck House (le palais de Buckingham, pour les non-initiés) à Londres. Le centre-ville est un pot de miel touristique, avec des musées en abondance et des monuments à (presque) chaque coin de rue. Jour après jour, le métro est bondé de banlieusards et les trottoirs deviennent des mers humaines inondant la capitale. Heureusement, vous pouvez échapper au brouhaha en vous dirigeant vers les marges du Zone 1 (et encore plus loin) pour retrouver des endroits calmes et paisables.
Doe, a deer, a female deer… Can you see where I’m going with this one? Chances are, if you’re familiar with London’s Royal Parks, you can. Richmond Park is one of my favourite green spaces in London: acres of greenery, trees as far as the eye can see and, of course, deer by the dozen.
Just a couple of days after flying back to the UK after a year of ups and downs in Lyon, I headed down to London to meet up with Laurence for the day. I caught an early train in an attempt to keep costs down and all was going smoothly until I arrived in Crewe, where things instantaneously went to pot. Virgin Trains were experiencing delays across the whole West Coast Mainline, but to their credit they announced that passengers could hop on any train they liked, so I did that and luckily arrived into London not much later than scheduled.
As things turned out, I found myself back in the UK rather sooner than expected – for an assessment centre, the part of recruitment processes that us millennials all love to hate. (As far as these things go it was an enjoyable day, though I did feel rather brain-drained afterwards!) Since I had to reschedule things in order to attend, I found myself with a day in London to fill beforehand and promptly arranged to meet up with my mum (during the day) and Laurence (once he’d finished work).
Even though I’ve been to London countless times, there’s always something left to see – be it a museum, a café, or just an iconic viewing spot of the capital. Since I live on the opposite side of the country to Laurence, it’s also the most convenient place to meet up when we’re both home (though we’ve now gone from living 236 miles apart in the same country to living 625 miles apart with the English Channel between us, so a new city may well take London’s place as most convenient meeting spot). Rambling aside, back in July we decided to have a day trip to London incorporating a few of our favourite things: a love of all things designed by Arup (that would be Laurence), admiring vintage cameras and lunching at the Camera Museum, and taking in London’s skyline from Hampstead Heath.