Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Reminding myself why I love London

Seen on the tube between South Woodford and Piccadilly Circus:
  • 3 people wearing Converse plimsolls
  • 5 people listening to iPods
  • 4 people reading the Metro
  • 4 people reading books
  • nobody reading an e-reader
  • 1 person asleep
  • 2 women wearing black woollen tights (one of them with black Converse plimsolls - very good)
  • 3 people texting, emailing or playing games on their smart phones (or maybe reading ebooks actually?)
  • 2 men wearing suits and ties
  • 1 sleepy-looking teenager carrying a yellow vuvuzela in a matching yellow Selfridges bag

Seen at the Sargent and the Sea exhibition at the Royal Academy:
  • sunsets over the mid-Atlantic
  • boys playing on a Normandy beach
  • Breton oyster sellers carrying unwieldy baskets on their hips
  • pencil sketches of rigging and furled sails
  • stormy seas
  • the grey skies of Whitby
  • the saturated heat of a Mediterranean beach
  • gondolas in Venice

John Singer Sargent, 'En Route pour la pĂȘche (Setting Out to Fish)', 1878.
I met my parents at the Royal Academy today, and we went to see the Sargent exhibition together.  Every aspect of my day reminded me why I love living in London so much:
  • The entertainment that is to be found by people-watching on the tube.
  • The ease with which the tube whizzes us around this enormous city.  Londoners like to moan about the tube, and admittedly commuting endlessly on it is tiring and crowded, but secretly I think it is wonderful.
  • The endless exhibitions, shows, plays, sports and other activities that are put on for Londoners and visitors all through the year.  There is no need ever to be bored living in London.
I am starting to put together a list of the things I want to do around London this autumn.  So far my list looks like this:
  • trips to Kew Gardens to see autumn colour and smell the damp earth
  • The Glasgow Boys exhibition at the Royal Academy
  • A late evening visit to the Natural History Museum.  Like almost all of the big London museums, the NHM opens late on a Friday evening and puts on special events, free to the public.  I really like the look of this one next week, and am wondering if the children would be up for an evening trip out
  • A series of walks to explore the Lee Valley Regional Park, which runs within walking distance of our house, and about which I know almost nothing.
  • A visit to the Olympic Park, which is going up really fast and gives me tingles of excitement every time I see it.
  • Another visit to see the Egyptian mummies at the British Museum, because O is studying the Ancient Egyptians at school this term, and I never tire of the British Museum and its amazing roof.
What are your favourite London destinations? Where do you head for first if you are visiting for a day?


  1. I also love the British mueseum's roof. My favourite thing about London is the architecture. Around every corner in Central London there's a wopper of a building. Love it. My least favourite thing about London is the crowds!

  2. We were visiting London for the first time with our 2 boys and our first port of call was the Natural History Museum. Just beautiful. I had forgotten how much I love London - I dont normally 'do' crowds but there I just soak it up. We will be visiting again next May and the British Museum will be on our hit list - how did I miss this. If I can escape there without the children my first place to visit would be the V&A

  3. The Bead Shop.
    The Aquarium to see the cuttlefish.
    Hampstead Heath.

  4. After visiting for the first time a couple of weeks ago I would definitely recommend Borough Market. We had such a fab time (which was a relief, as I had wanted to go for ages)and wandering around, exploring all of the different food stands and enjoying the hustle and bustle and people watching..possibly quite an un-touristy thing to do, but that's another thing I liked about it.
    I also enjoyed the cocktail bar on the top floor of Waterstones!(possibly not one for children though...)
    Ooh! and deer watching in Richmond Park...
    And Belgo in Covent Garden for moules frites and beer...
    Will stop now.

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  6. magsmcc is trying again- with spelling this time! Haven't been to London in an age, was the jist of Attempt 1, but am sending a link to this post to the daughter of friends who is heading to King's at the weekend to start her studies. Maybe I can experience the joys vicariously!

  7. oooh I love people watching on the tube! we took our two to London for the first time this summer, as well as the museums, we found the cutest swings in the park near the palace, E was totally enthralled by being upstairs on a bus, but for me the food hall at Harrods has to be the lure of the day.......
    oh and I love those shared gardens in Kensington which you can peek into over the hedges, and pretend you are Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts...

  8. Those are very evocative lists. You've reminded me why I like London so much too. Your plans for autumn make me envious. How fun to be so close to so much action!

  9. The London parks are great for people watching. I also love Covent garden and the surounding area. Is Neal's Yard still there selling New Age things, cheese and Artisan breads?

  10. I'm so glad you reminded me about the Sargent and the Sea exhibition. My mum loved it when it was in Washington. Must get there before it closes!

    I just wish I could agree with you about the Tube...sigh.

    K x

  11. I love London too, and wish I could live there for a while.

    Love your lists of what's spotted on the tube, more of that!


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