Exploring London as a Local
It’s always easy to overlook all of the amazing things on your doorstep. Growing up in Belgium, I didn’t realise that beautiful places like Dinant or Ghent were just a train ride away. Now, having lived in London for around 7 years, I often take the city for granted. I often think “I’ll do that one day” and put things off, which is a shame because I might never get around to doing them! So my new resolution is to do more things in London, including all of the things that have been on my bucket list for ages.
I’ve always loved visiting Tate Modern, but I think going to Tate Britain when I was very young kind of put me off – I thought all that classic art was very boring at the time! (Thanks mum for dragging me there) Recently though, I’ve been thinking it’s time to pay the museum another visit. If anything, I’ll definitely enjoy the architecture and that beautiful spiral staircase!
Tower Bridge Glass Walkway
This is on my list because I’ve never done it, but I’m actually not sure if I’d enjoy it at all! I’m a bit scared of heights, and glass floors make me feel very uncomfortable. It does look like an amazing experience though, so I’m keeping it on the list!
Strawberry Hill House
Strawberry Hill House is a Gothic villa that was built in Twickenham in the 18th century. Isn’t it so pretty? I think it looks like it belongs in a fairytale! Have a look at pictures from Town & Country magazine to see what I mean. My plan for this summer is to have a picnic in the garden with the villa’s tower as a beautiful backdrop.
Make sure you check the opening days and times on the website before you go, as the house is not open every day.
Visiting graveyards isn’t usually on my bucket list, but Highgate is different. From its website: “Highgate Cemetery opened in 1839. It was run by a private company. But when in the 1970s they found it was no longer profitable to run commercially, nature took over and vandals had their day.” Fortunately, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust took over in 1975 and rescued this amazing Victorian cemetery.
Many people go there just to see famous graves, like that of Karl Marx and George Michael. I really want to go on a guided tour of the spooky and overgrown West Cemetery, which is where some of the most beautiful Victorian monuments are. I bet the guides have some interesting stories to tell!
I hope I’ll get to meet the resident black cat one day.
God’s Own Junkyard
I’ve been meaning to visit the neon wonderland that is God’s Own Junkyard for years. Its owner Chris Bracey has built a whole career around creating neons for hollywood films, famous artists, music videos and fashion shoots. The “Junkyard” is his own collection of reclaimed neon signs, old movie props and retro displays. You might recognise something from Batman or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sitting next to a salvaged fairground piece. It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before! I want to go at the weekend when The Rolling Scones Cafe is open!
Inside St Paul’s Cathedral
I’ve walked past St Paul’s countless times and have taken many photos of it, yet I still haven’t been inside!
At £18 a ticket (£16 online) it isn’t cheap, but it’s definitely worth going at least once. Highlights include the Whispering Gallery, which gets its name from a quirk in construction which means a whisper on one side of the dome is heard on the opposite side. Climb 528 steps and you also get a fab panoramic view of London from the Golden Gallery at the top of the Cathedral.
New Design Museum
As soon as the new Design Museum announced its opening in November 2016, I knew I wanted to go there. Initially what attracted me were some aerial pictures of the roof of the building, which made it look very cool – like a spaceship or some origami. Since then, the museum has had many interesting exhibitions but I still haven’t been! Who’s coming with me?
Maltby Street Market
On Saturdays and Sundays, artisan producers serve up their goods at Maltby Street market in Bermondsey. I’ve heard that the market is quite small, but the food looks amazing! I want to try the caramel hot chocolate with a marshmallow rim from Fatties Bakery some doughnuts from St John bakery (I’ve heard they’re amazing).
Update: went to Maltby Street on Sunday and it was great! Definitely recommend the hot chocolate from Fatties and we had some waffle with fried chicken which was great (although a bit pricy!). The market is quite small but has a nice atmosphere without getting crowded. A lot less touristy than Borough Market (which I love too).
The Emirates Air Line
Again, I’ve been meaning to do this for years but just haven’t got around to it. Cable cars are always fun and I never get tired of a nice London view!
The Emirates Air Line takes around 10 minutes to connect the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. The journey costs £3.50 and you can use your Oyster or contactless card. I recommend exploring Greenwich while you’re at it – it’s a beautiful part of town!
Maybe it’s because I haven’t been yet, but I feel like Berners Tavern has become a real London classic. It’s run by Jason Atherton, the renowned chef that’s also responsible for Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social and my personal favourite, Sosharu. It’s the interior that’s the real reason I want to go there though: high ceilings, walls covered in beautifully framed art, and Grand Central-inspired chandeliers.
Who wants to go for brunch with me?
The Conservatory at the Barbican
Hidden in the Barbican centre, this conservatory houses over 200 species of plants. If you haven’t been to Barbican complex before, the brutalist architecture alone is worth a visit. The contrast between the lush greenery in the conservatory and the harsh architecture is pretty cool, if you ask me.
Top tip: Check the opening hours and dates before you go because the conservatory is only open on selected Sundays and Bank holidays.
I actually made it to the conservatory right after I started writing this post, so that’s one ticked off!
I’ll definitely be adding more things to this list at the same rate as I tick things off! One of my favourite quotes is “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” (Samuel Johnson) – because how could you get tired of this city when there are so many things to discover here?
What’s on your London bucket list? I’d love to know!