Featured writer: Andrew Thomas
I have lived in this fair city for many years and I have never fallen out of love with it. London is full of surprises that always, well surprise me. I could be taking a short cut and find a little park I never knew existed or a pub or a little museum that is poorly advertised yet fascinating. I have been told that the best way to see a city is with someone who knows it. I’m not offering my services as a tour guide to anyone who reads this but if you do read this then I would hope that I have done so in a virtual sense. So here are my top 3 things to do in London (in no particular order) that don’t usually make the guide books.
The Camel. This is a small pub buried in the East End of London and it’s one of my favourite places in the world. It has beer from a local brewery, friendly bar staff, excellent pie and mash (a Proper East London tradition), very interesting decor, loads of board games and history. The history of the place is all over the walls in picture form and outside the pub in its signage and building materials. The thing I love most is its resilience and luck during the Second World War; it stayed standing while all over buildings around it were razed to the ground. The Camel became a meeting place for the local community and, with the back wall being knocked down; the children would run in and out while the parents would have a cuppa.
Battersea Park Children’s Zoo. A really good alternative to London Zoo, especially if you have kids. I find London Zoo far too big for a day trip and somewhat expensive. Battersea Zoo has loads of animals, a wonderful meerkat viewing bubble, a really nice café and a huge play area complete with a decommissioned fire engine that I, I mean my son really loved playing in. It doesn’t have as many big animals as its bigger cousin but it makes for a nice relaxed day. If you want the rush of a Disney world, map out, run around experience go to London Zoo. If you want a relaxed Central Park Zoo experience head to Battersea.
Speakers Corner. Set in the corner of Hyde Park nearest to Marble Arch tube station this is a real treat. It is a place where people who have something to say gather and literally get on their respective soap boxes. The topics range from the bizarre to the political and everything in-between. The only down side to this wonderful place is that you never know what you’re going to get. Some days it’s packed, others it’s empty. If you do show up and no one is there don’t worry, you can always go for a wander round the park and see the Diana Memorial Fountain.
So there you have it, my list of things to do in London if you fancy something different. Make sure you see the main sites as well such as the Tower of London, Globe Theatre, all the free museums (Science, Natural History, British and Victoria and Albert) and the London Eye. I would never presume that my list of sights is exhaustive. I’ve been here for a decade and London still surprises me.
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We lived in London from 1982-87 and our two sons were born there. It will always be a special place for us as that’s where we started our married life and family. I try to get there about once a year- doesn’t always work out. And yes, there’s always something new to discover (that usually is something very old!)
Andy as you know your Mum and I lived on the District line so as kids we often made trips into town and explored various parts of London. So much to see, so much to do. I do miss the pubs, and the markets and the eccentrics. Thanks for reminding me of those times. Unc.
I started my working career in London and would go back every weekend as I had a season ticket on the train and there was always so much going on and that was 1970. It always has been an exciting place to be but for me I could not live there now it is too busy.