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in which i send you on a wee adventure around london

April 6, 2011

Elevine asks: as a young lady in this london town of mine, which I’ve understood that you also enjoy, I would like to know what you would like ME to do here for a day. like, to give you the possibility to request a little delightful list of to-gos and to-dos so that I can go on an expedition to enjoy this british city for YOU. if this sounds fun to you, and you want to give me this little adventure, I will of course be very happy to make you a report-post from the day on my blog in return, so you can get the experiences through my eyes as well

My love of London precedes me, it appears. Indeed, I fell in love with this great city well before I fell in love in it. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I send one of London’s very own (two, actually, as Miss Xanthe wants to join in the fun as well) on a little adventure around her city. Following are places I’ve been, places I hoped to visit and things I would definitely do if I were there. London is such a vibrant city that I could have written a list a mile long, but I limited my choices to a select few, lest I overwhelm. This adventure is equal parts culture & arts, nature, food and quirky/strange/touristy stuff. Feel free to pick and choose those that appeal to you the most (though I suggest a couple from each category for a full and satisfying day/weekend).

To make things easier, I’ve create a wee map. Of note is the sheer size of London. It’s a big ass city, people. As such, there is a great distance to be covered between some of these stops and I would definitely encourage you to hop on a Barclay’s bike, which is now available to casual users, to get from point A to B (and heck, why not cycle to point C as well). Cycling is such a great way to see one’s city and it’s FUN!

So… let the adventures begin:

  1. Start the day with a coffee and a bowl of granola (or whatever floats your boat) at the Towpath Café along the Dalston stretch.
  2. Walk to Shoreditch Park, pick up a Barclay’s Bike and cycle down the canal to your next destination (any of those listed below, in no particular order)
  3. Rub the nose on the inside wall of the Admiralty Arch for good luck: “On the inside wall of the northernmost arch there is a small protrusion the size and shape of a human nose. There is little or no public information as to why it is there. The nose is at a height of about seven feet, and sits at waist high for anyone riding through the arch on a horse. Tradition holds that the nose is there in honour of the Duke of Wellington, who was known for having a particularly large nose. Royal soldiers would rub Wellington’s nose for good luck as they rode through the arch.” Source: Wikipedia
  4. I have a thing for churches (though I might be the least religious person you know). Still, I love the smell of incense and the architecture (the more gothic, the better) and the silence, which is why I wish I’d paid the four quid to see St-Bartholomew’s Church, a dark 12th century church tucked in a small alleyway (the irony being that I grew up in a small town called St-Barthélemy in Québec).
  5. If by the time you leave, you need another dose of caffeine, there is a great café around the corner aptly named Dose (I remember the ginger Guinness cake being particularly tasty).
  6. The National Portrait Gallery is featuring photographers E.O. Hoppé and Ida Kar this month.
  7. Make a pit stop at Cross Bones Graveyard, a strange, unconsecrated burial site for paupers and prostitutes during post-medieval times. In 1992, a mass of human bones were discovered here. The bones have long since been excavated and were put on display at the Museum of London. Nothing is left at this site, except for a few weeds and a memorial plaque… but still, it’s a bit fascinating.
  8. See this dance performance at the Barbican, which has been getting rave reviews. I believe there is a show every hour as of 11:30am.
  9. Pick up bread and cheese and fruit from Borough Market and find a quiet place to sit and eat. May I suggest Postman’s Park (as seen in the film Closer)?
  10. Go see the play/sensory experience Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World at Southwark Playhouse (shows start at 7:30pm, or go to a 3pm matinée on Saturdays).

  11. Have a glass of wine and a delicious bite to eat at Fernandez and Wells. Or grab dinner at The Duke of Cambridge.

  12. Listen to classical music by candlelight at St-Martin in the Fields or go to a lunch time series concert.

  13. End the night sharing a bottle of wine and a bowl of olives with a friend in Gordon’s grotto, London’s oldest wine bar established in 1890.

Other out-of-the-way sights to consider:

  1. Stroll Chelsea Physic Garden, London’s oldest botanic garden and a unique living museum.
  2. Go to Speaker’s Corner on a random Sunday morning. A tradition stretching back about 130 years. According to LondonTown, Speakers corner is “Not strictly classed “entertainment”, this bastion of British free public speech and free assembly can prove one of the most absorbingly unique, theatrical activities the city has to offer.
  3. I have a strange fascination with cemeteries, therefore I would definitely check out each of the magnificent seven in London. One of my favorite moments when I visited the British Boy last January was stumbling upon and strolling through Abney Park Cemetery.
  4. I might be inclined to go see The Ballina Whalers & Hog Eye Men, a night of traditional sea shanties on the 16th of April at the RailRoad Café. Either way, I’d definitely have lunch or a drink there, if nothing else.
  5. Given my interest in all things retro and kitsch, I’d probably head over to the Waterline Cruising Photography exhibit at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (I might even pull all stops and do the most touristy thing of all… take a Thames river boat to get there. ha!)
  6. I could easily spend each of my Sunday afternoons at the Southampton Arms Pub, which I wrote about here.

For other fun things to do in London, check out Timeout’s 101 things to do before you leave London or this site

Have fun, ladies. Wish I could be there with you. xo

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2011 12:04 pm

    i like wonderful photos of your wandering, thanks for sharing

  2. Alison permalink
    April 6, 2011 6:08 pm

    Oh I can’t wait to see some of those things someday.

  3. April 6, 2011 7:47 pm

    thankyou so much for doing this!
    I am very exited to head out for small adventures and explore all these various exiting places and happenings!

    – I have now officially started the project through my little blog too, and I will let you know as soon as I’ve got some expeditions to report from 😀


  4. April 7, 2011 12:35 pm

    i love the quirky and weird

  5. sophie permalink
    April 8, 2011 4:26 am

    Crap! Here comes the wanderlust bug again… all I can think of now is going back to London!

    *at- CHOO!!*

    (can’t wait to see the photos…)

  6. April 9, 2011 9:42 am

    This is great. Love your idea. London is my favorite city and I can’t wait to return in a few months. I’ll have to try out your suggestions.

  7. April 18, 2011 4:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing, tours that involve a bicycle and a stop at a market are simply the best!

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