I’ve been obsessed with London since I was a teenager, since the days when my school friends and I would get the train up at the weekends to chase pop bands around. Back then London was a place of absolute wonder and excitement; a place where you could realise your dreams, no matter how crazy or ridiculous. It’s so difficult to explain the exhilaration the 14-year-old me would feel getting off the train at Waterloo, a stranger in a city bigger than I could fathom with so much to see and do. I promised that teenage version of me that one day, I’d live in London – and now I do.
Why I Love London
Andrew and I have been living in London for nearly three years now and in all that time I’ve never lost that sense of teenage wonder. I have my favourite restaurants and pubs, cinemas, film festivals, museums and walks. I love the life we’ve carved in London, the people we’ve met, the work we do and the routines we’ve established.
It’s more than that though –
I love London for its newness and oldness squashed together, the tall glass buildings surrounded by old cathedrals and tiny Victorian houses next to towering council blocks. I love Christmas in London when the markets and pubs are full, the lights go up, the church bells sing and a centimetre of sleet can bring the transport system to a standstill. I love the summer time when everyone flocks to the parks and you can sit on the Southbank with a beer, gazing across the Thames – and right now especially, I love autumn in London; the frosty dark mornings and fireworks in the park.
Here are some of my favourite places and things to do in London.
The Southbank is my favourite place in London – I love the amazing view over the Thames. The river is lined with so many restaurants and pubs as well as the Royal Festival Hall and the British Film Institute. Best of all, I’m lucky enough to work in Southwark, so I can walk over to the river in my lunch break.
Free London Attractions
London has some of the best free museums. My favourite is the Imperial War Museum, which has a truly devastating Holocaust exhibition; the National History Museum is also great. Aside from that, one of the best things about London is that there’s always something going on, a festival, a celebration, a protest, the Olympics… what’s even better is that you won’t pay a penny for lots of them. Recently I’ve seen alien street art at a festival in Greenwich and been to the annual Thames festival:
Buildings, Sights & Museums
There are so many sights to see in London. My favourites include Greenwich, especially the view from the observatory on top of the hill shown below, the tower of London, secret corners of Covent Garden like Neal’s Yard (below left) and the London Dungeons – touristy but brilliant!
There are many great parks in London, the one we love the most though is the one closest to where we live – Dulwich Park. It’s the best park for sunbathing, table tennis, running and dog-watching – oh, and it’s absolutely stunning.
We used to live in East London and the markets there were brilliant; cheap and full of proper east-enders heckling and trying to swindle you. My favourite is Borough Market though, which also happens to only be a 10 minute walk from work; yes, I really lucked out on office location.
Film is one of my big passions, I even spent three years studying it at Uni. London is the perfect place to indulge my obsession with film; I have membership at my favourite art-house cinema, the Curzon in Soho. I’ve also been to some great film festivals; including the annual sci-fi film festival, a Japanese film festival, the Human Rights film festival and of course, my favourite – Fright Fest.
I couldn’t finish this list without mentioning our local pub. We love it for the fact that it’s independent, the barman is crazy and it’s called The Hob (as in the Hunger Games, cool, huh?).
So why do I want to leave the city I love so much? Right now I find I’m asking myself that question every day. The only answer that I can come up is that my desire to travel trumps my love for London at this point in my life and who knows, maybe I’ll find somewhere even better? In any case, the city will always be here and hopefully one day I’ll return.