Being a Tourist at Home

Being a Tourist

Being a TouristWith my current plans being to leave London (well, the UK generally) at the end of next year, I’ve realised I have lots to see before I go. So I’ve decided that now is the time to start being a tourist in my home city! I’ve been thinking about the ways in which I can live more like a tourist and compiled this list so far:

Take More Photos

Whenever I’m on holiday I take hundreds of photos. I’m constantly looking around, appreciating things and making a record of them with my camera. But I never do that at home. I’m going to make a conscious effort to take more photos and to take my proper camera with me when I’m out and about at the weekend. When you’re on the lookout for things to take photos of you tend to notice new things that you wouldn’t usually.

Being a TouristStay in a Hotel

Before I leave London I’m determined to stay in a really nice hotel for one night. We have so many posh hotels that people travel for miles and miles to visit and stay at, I’d like to make the most of. It seems a little silly to pay for a hotel room when I have a perfectly good flat in the same city so I’m going to wait for an occasion before treating myself though…maybe my next birthday. Another option is to just go to the bar in a nice hotel for a glass of wine or even for afternoon tea.

Take a Tour

There are loads of tours on offer in London. I have my sights set on the afternoon tea tour bus for sure. Personally, I don’t see the point in getting on the Hop-On-Hop-Off tours as I’ve seen most of the main sights separately. Having said that, those tours are a great way of getting to know your home city if you don’t already as they always stop at the key places.

Walk More 

We miss so much on our commutes, especially if we use the Underground (it’s in the name – you won’t see much!). I’m determined to start walking more. And, in addition to that,to start using different routes so that I get to see more. This idea ties in nicely with taking more photos as I’ll have more opportunity to look around, notice new things and take more photos.

Explore New Areas 

I’m hoping that walking more will lead to this! It’s so tempting to stick to the places you know and love when you’re at home. But you wouldn’t do that if you were on holiday and exploring somewhere new – you’d try as many places as possible. So now’s the time to act like a tourist and start looking for a new place to get coffee on a Sunday morning or a different park for a picnic in the summer. Remember not to get stuck on the next new place that you like though! Keep changing it up!

Being a TouristGo to a Local Event 

People travel from all over the world to go to Notting Hill Carnival. I live in London but I’ve never been. If you were in a country when an event was on, you’d probably do your best to experience it. So why should it be any different at home? It doesn’t even need to be something as big as that, perhaps just a local farmers market. I love wandering round markets that I stumble across when I’m exploring somewhere new. I’m sure I’d love it here too.

Make Plans

If you were on holiday, you’d plan out what you were going to do and see each day. So why not do this at home? Have a look online or read some guidebooks, highlight what you want to do and see and plan it out. There’s no rush, so plan one or two things every weekend or even once a month; whatever suits you best.

I’m working on a “Bucket List” of things to do in London which I’ll be trying to work my way through over the next 12 months. I’ll be posting the list soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that. Feel free to let me know of anything you’d like to add to it!

10 Things You Forget About in London

10 Things in LondonThere’s lots of times that I’ve been out in London, whether on my way to work or meeting friends and I’ve started doing something and part way through thought “Oh shit, this was a bad idea”. And I don’t mean just once. I make the same mistakes time and time again…will I ever learn?!

1. Just how far underground the underground actually is 

You head towards the escalator, there’s a queue on the right so you decide to go to the left…after all, it’s only a few steps to the top right?! Wrong! There are always at least 1,000,000 steps between you and street level and no matter how fit you are, you will regret choosing to walk up the escalator approximately a third of the way up. But it’s too late – at the moment you realise this, there will be no space for you to take a side step to the right so you have no choice to push on and stagger off the escalator a sweaty, out of breath mess.

2. How busy it is EVERYWHERE 

Where do all of these people come from?? I mean seriously, no matter what time of day it is or where you are, there are always so many people! Of course Waterloo station is going to be busy, people want to see the London Eye and hang out on Southbank but it’s too late, you’re already stuck in the crowd and missed your train out of the hell that is Central London on a weekend!

3. Which bloody exit to use at the station

I’ve worked at Green Park for over 6 months now and still take the wrong exit every now and then. Half way up the stairs I remember these aren’t the ones I usually take but it’s too late and I’m standing on the pavement wondering where the hell I am and how I find my office from here. Who even decided that tube stations should have multiple exits? Why? What were they thinking?

4. That it would have been quicker to walk

There’s a number of things that every Londoner hates to hear but top of that list has to be “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re just being held here as the train in front is stuck in the next station, we hope to be moving again in a few minutes”. Inevitably, that “few minutes” will be 20 minutes and feel like 20 hours! But it’s not just delays that mean taking the tube is actually slower than walking. You go into the station, down the escalator and then realise you’re at one of the stations where the line you need to get on in is at the end of a mile long tunnel but it’s too late, you’re already down there and, chances are, you’re probably walking in one direction to get on a train that’s travelling in the opposite – you should have just walked.

Thames

5. Just how much you hate pigeons 

I’ll take a nice little walk through St James’s Park on my lunch break and enjoy the sunshine you think to yourself…sounds perfect. As you stroll through the park you see some birds ahead and you remember how much you hate pigeons, but it’s too late, some little brat is running right into the group of birds and they all fly up and into your face!

6. That it’s always so HOT!

It’s the middle of winter. It looks pretty grey and miserable outside, there’s been rumours of snow. You grab a coat – maybe a hat and scarf – and head out of the house. You get warmer as you walk which you think is great but as you descend the escalator into the tube station you start to feel uncomfortable but you have to dash to get onto the tube before the doors close. That’s when you realise you didn’t need your coat at all…or your cardigan…or the t-shirt underneath but it’s too late you’re already squished into the carriage and there’s not a cat in hell’s chance (which, coincidentally is how you feel right now) of you being able to move enough to be able to wriggle out of your coat let alone any other layers. You have no choice but to stand there and sweat it out!

7. That it rains here too

Sure, it’s bloody boiling here all the time and the underground is nice and dry but you never remember that it still rains in London until it’s too late and you’re on your way out somewhere and get soaked!

8. How quickly time goes

How?!?! Seriously, how does time go so fast?!?! You make plans to see your friends over the next couple of weeks and before you know it, 6 months have gone by and then 12. And then, it’s five years later and everyone has moved out of London to have families and get dogs and live in the countryside and you’re just sat there wondering where the hell the time went.

Note: I was just about to hit publish on this post and noticed that I started drafting it on the 24th January! Point proven!

9. Just how expensive London is

Oh, over £10 for two pints, sure, that seems reasonable. At the end of a crappy day at work, all you fancy is a cold one so you and your work mates grab your coats and head to the nearest bar. You’re chatting away and that’s when you remember how poor you are and how insanely expensive London is. But it’s too late, you’re already being served at the bar and it looks like you’ve offered to get this round in for the whole crew!

Bright-eyed and Bewildered

10. How beautiful London really is

Despite the above things happening to me on a daily basis, I wouldn’t live anywhere else right now. Just in case you need a reminder of how amazing and beautiful London is, just look outside. Get out there and enjoy it before it’s too late!

Bank Holiday Weekend in London

Bank Holiday Weekend in London

Bank Holiday Weekend in LondonOk, ok, I know I live in London so I’m here every weekend but this weekend I tried to make the most of having more than two days off and actually got out of the flat for a bit! So here’s what I got up to this Bank Holiday weekend in London.

Firstly, I kinda cheated on the whole Bank Holiday weekend thing as I also had Friday and Tuesday off and they were the days that I actually did stuff on – I mean, let’s be realistic here, going out in London on any usual weekend is bad enough but a Bank Holiday weekend…no thanks!

On Thursday I decided I’d take my chances and see if there were any last minute spa days around for Friday. After a little bit of searching, it quickly became clear that there’s no such thing as a reasonably priced spa in London. Well, that was until I came across the Bannatyne Spa on Millbank. I got a half hour back, shoulder and neck massage plus unlimited use of their spa facilities for £39 which I didn’t think was too bad. The spa facilities were fairly small and limited but were just what I needed – a pool, a steam room, a sauna and two jacuzzis. The massage itself was amazing and totally chilled me out. Our relaxing Friday was finished off by dinner with friends – day one of the long weekend done! (keep your eye out for my upcoming post on making time for your family and friends)

I tried to avoid the crowds over the actual weekend and made some good progress on my writing and my exciting new website which will be launching soon. We also took a trip out to Richmond Park on Sunday as the weather was so nice. We saw lots of deer but didn’t get any pictures so all I can share with you is this tree and lovely blue sky.

Bank Holiday Weekend in LondonMonday was the day I finally got my tattoo finished – and I absolutely LOVE it! I had my first sitting back in December and, after a total of roughly 8 hours, I’m so glad it’s complete (and just in time for summer!) I’m not going to lie, this final sitting was pretty painful but the tattoo artist, Harriet, was amazing and I’m completely over the moon with the finished design…now to plan my next one…

Bank Holiday weekend in LondonThinking that my tattoo appointment was actually on Tuesday, I’d booked today off work a while back so thought I’d make the most of it and decided to start ticking things of my “London To-Do List”. Today’s tourist attraction was the Natural History Museum which was so much more fun than I’d expected it to be. As far as I can remember I’ve never been before so it was all new to me. There’s so much to see and learn, it’s amazing that it’s free! The building that houses the museum is fantastic too, especially the main hall which is stunning.

Bank Holiday weekend in LondonThere was such a huge variety of things to look at it was almost overwhelming and some parts were quite text heavy with lots to take in. That said, I’d definitely recommend the Natural History Museum to anyone, including those with children as there’s lots of hands-on things to do and always something interesting to look at even if you’re not reading! Highlights for me included the human evolution, the earthquake simulator and the mammal room (with the huge blue whale in it). Obviously, my favourite part was the dinosaurs – which has inspired me to start a Jurassic Park movie marathon; I’m currently on the second one, but it’s still early!

Bank Holiday Weekend in LondonAlthough this weekend has been tiring, it’s definitely inspired me to get out and see more of London and to make the most of the free stuff to do. I’m not particularly looking forward to going back to work after a few days off but I’m excited about next weekend already.

10 Things I Hate About the Underground

10 Things I Hate About the Undergound

It’s no secret that I detest the underground. I also hate the overground; it’s actually a journey on the overground that triggered this post being written.

There’s a few things that particularly annoy me and I don’t even understand how some of these things happen.

1. People talking really fucking loudly – This was the driving force behind me furiously scribbling down notes for this post. I was sat about five seats down from a lady having the loudest telephone conversation in the world! I had my headphones in and could still hear her over my music. Why did she have to be so loud?!

2. The run-and-jumpers – When the tube is absolutely packed in the morning and that one person is so desperate to not have to wait another minute for the next train that they take a run up and launch themselves into the carriage – if the only way that you get into the train is by throwing your full body weight, at speed, into other people, there’s simply not enough room. Dickhead. This leads nicely on to…

3. Backpacks/Handbags/Guitars in the face – this one is so easy to avoid. When you get on the tube, take your bag off. Simple. Yes, you might think you have space to turn 180 degrees but you seem to have forgotten about the 60 litre backpack attached to you which just scraped half the skin off my face as you turned. Thanks for that mate.

No Space for Bags on the Underground

4. Tutters and sighers – Yes this journey is shit but it’s shit for all of us and no matter how much you tut, sigh, roll your eyes or whatever else you might be doing, it’s not going to get any better until you reach your destination and get off.

5. Standing on the right (or not) – So this isn’t really a problem with the underground itself but it is part of the underground station so it belongs in this list. “Stand on the right” means exactly that – don’t stand on the left or in middle. Also, and perhaps the signs need to be clearer on this because it happens all the time, this applies to your bags too! It’s pointless you standing on the right if your bag is next to you and no one can get past anyway.

6. Tourists – As someone who loves travelling, I know this shouldn’t annoy me but seriously, do you have to be standing right in front of the tube doors with your map out during rush hour? Surely you could have had an extra half an hour in bed, you are on holiday after all.

7. The smell – All of the smells! If you smell a little sweaty because you’re on your way home from a run/the gym/football, fair enough. If you smell sweaty because you haven’t showered in three weeks, that’s not ok. What is also not ok is eating on the underground. Firstly, it’s unbelievably unhygienic. Secondly, nobody wants to smell your tuna/egg/salami sandwich combined with three weeks’ worth of sweat. Finally, and not all related to smell, if you eat with your mouth open or just chew really loudly, expect to get hurt!

8. Really happy people – It’s 7 a.m., the only reason I’m on the tube this early, is so that I miss rush hour. Just because we’re sat in the same carriage does not automatically make us friends. Please stop talking to me.

Don't Make Eye Contact

9. Really miserable people – In Manchester, if you accidentally catch someone’s eye, you give them a quick friendly smile. I don’t mean a long, creepy, stalker-like smile – just a silent acknowledgment. I tried this on the tube for the first day or two; I’m surprised I’m still alive. Apparently even accidental eye contact is too much. You London folk need to lighten up a bit (just be careful not to go too far and turn into number 8 though.)

10. The Heat – How is it so flippin’ hot all the flippin’ time?!?!

As you can probably guess, my daily commute isn’t really my favourite part of the day but I’m British so I love having something to moan about! Plus, it gives me extra motivation to run home a couple of times a week.

Sublime Sundays Part Seven: A Round Up of A Productive Weekend

A Round Up of A Productive Weekend

This weekend has been fairly productive; I finally feel like I’ve achieved something and been able to tick not one, but two things off my to-do list.

I know these posts are usually about how I spent my Sunday but I haven’t posted for the past couple of days so thought I’d just do a little round up of what I got up to this weekend.

As both me and Sean are working on blogs at the moment we’ve decided that on one day of the weekend we are going to spend a few hours in a coffee shop doing some work. We’ve done some research into the best coffee places in London to work in – comfy seating and a good internet connection is pretty important so we needed a bit of guidance. The aim is to try out a new place each weekend, occasionally going back to our favourites.

So, first on our list was Timber Yard on Old Street. We got there just after they opened at 10 on Saturday morning and it was a good job we did because it filled up pretty quickly. We bagged ourselves a sofa and an arm chair downstairs (upstairs is street level and got quite loud later on in the day, so not an ideal place to work but great to hang out with friends).

The coffee was really, really good (over the four hours we were there, I had a flat white, a latte and a chai latte), the only criticism I would have is that I wish each cup had lasted longer! We also had a caramel brownie between us for breakfast which was amazing and some pastries around lunch time (don’t judge!). There was more substantial food on offer such as sandwiches and soup which looked really good but both of us were far too tempted by the sweeter treats on offer.

Timber Yard

The internet connection was fast (and free) which meant that we were both able to get a lot done. It seemed like almost everyone downstairs was working which I think contributed to my productivity. The atmosphere wasn’t dull and serious though which is what I had been worried about before we got there. People were still talking to each other and laughing so it didn’t feel like we were in an office. The staff were really helpful and friendly too.

Timber Yard might have been the first coffee shop on our list to try but it’s also the first on our list of places to go back to!

We stayed at Timber Yard until mid-afternoon and I managed to get two blog posts written, I read an eBook on writing eBooks (clever, eh?) and I added another chapter to my draft book. All in all, a productive few hours. 

When we got home, I did a little more work on my book and then took some time out to hang out with one of my best friends and watch Grown Ups. By the time I’d come home, made dinner (home made lasagne, go me!), it was bed time.

Sunday started a little slower and has mainly involved me sitting on my bed. But, I have done a third blog post as well as this one and I’ve also finished reading an eBook on freelance writing. When I’m reading educational/how-to books and articles I like to make notes for three reasons; 1. it helps me remember what I read; 2. I have the key points handy for future reference; and 3. it means I have a use for the million notebooks I own.

Etsy are also running an course called Etsy Resolution, which is a four week course on setting up and getting the most out of your Etsy store. I’d kind of set one up before but never really put any effort into it so I’ve signed up for the course and completed the first lesson this afternoon.

So, as you can see, this weekend has been very productive and I actually feel like I’ve started to make progress in a number of areas. All I have left to do this evening is to finish off next week’s schedule and edit and schedule my draft blog posts for later this week. And, with leftover lasagne for dinner, I don’t even have to cook!

How was your weekend? Did you get much done or just enjoy a relaxing few days?