Rediscovering London town

So, I’ve been a little slower than expected on this whole blogging thing. Not because I don’t love and miss all you wonderful people but I’ve just been so busy doing nothing and pigging out living life and having fun. I decided this summer, unlike my previous, will be one filled with adventure, pictures and fun memories. Not one where I made a list of things to do and sat and stared at it all summer long but I promised myself that this summer would be mine for the taking. They say “life is not in the amount of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away”. Well, as I’ve put on my tourist boots and been traipsing round this beautiful city we call London, I’ve had a few breathtaking moments of my own. So here’s to all those London kids who still think this city is dead and drab and its attractions for travellers and kids. Discover the world, but before you do, don’t fail to appreciate the beauty in your very own backyard. And yes, I stole that quote from Hitch. 

So, kids, what did you get up to in your summer holidays?

Wellll, miss….

Royal Ascot

Ok so I started off the summer with a bang, in a place not so far from London. Thanks to my fantastic job, I ended up  spending the duration of one of the biggest horse racing shows of the summer serving wealthy businessmen and checking out some splendid and downright bizarre hats. And outfits. Before going into this thing, I was skeptical about animals and altogether not a big fan of sports, but in just 5 days, I was sold. Being just a few metres from the racetracks and watching the jockeys lead their majestic horses round the track, plus the atmosphere which was constantly buzzing with excitement, fear, and such tenacious hope as some people put their life savings into the possible victory of their favourite horse really does something to a girl. Even when they didn’t win, the 4 course meal and open bar picked up the pieces of their fragile ego and cheered them up no end. And of course, everyone was ecstatic on behalf of her Majesty when her horse took centre stage.

The regality, the wild atmosphere, the amazing food and the elegant horses?

Definitely 5 stars

Silverstone

I also had the privilege of working at another event a little less royal and a little more exciting. Though this also was technically not in London, but a little way out, near Coventry, it was filled to the brim with just as many people as the capital city manages to contain. Now if I had any interest in horses, I definitely had no regard for cars. As someone still struggling to pass my driving test, I must say, I hate those death traps. But clearly, there are a LOT of people who don’t agree. Crowds flocked from all over the world, bringing children, grandparents, wives, girlfriends, even business colleagues to see what was one of the greatest events of the summer. I had no idea how much people were into cars. The racing outfits (which cost a fortune btw) were donned, toy cars flew about everywhere and not a single body was seen in the welcome bar I worked in once the cars were out. Despite the sweltering heat that prevented me from venturing out onto the balcony and the sheer deafening volume of the engine as the cars drove past, every single person stepped out to see the cars go. And though I can’t say I’m now a dedicated grand prix follower, it was definitely thrilling to see such powerful engines, fast cars and their dedicated following watching their every lightning move.

Even if you’re not a grand prix fan, it is something you must experience at least once in your life.

3 stars

London Zoo

This place I thankfully didn’t work at but instead dragged my little sister along on her one day off school. It was a £20 ticket, not too steep for a place like London, but most of the money is made from food sales and pictures that frankly, you can take with your digital camera. Now I’ve been waiting to go to the zoo for some time now, and see God’s beautiful creatures the way they were supposed to be seen: far away from me. But I must say, ZSL gets you really involved. One bird show we went to see (the video of which I stupidly deleted from my phone), the vulture flew so close to some of us, it grazed the top of our heads. To see how they controlled and commanded these animals, still with the utmost care and respect was truly amazing. Though I was more than a little disappointed to see that my favourite animals (lions and tigers) were having a little nap, tucked so far away from the public, the maximum zoom on my camera could barely even capture them;  having the cutest little lion faced monkey almost jump into my bag more than made up for it and I must say, I left the place a very happy bunny (pun intended).

Good food, lively animals and a place that takes pride in its awesome care of each resident.

5 stars

Buckingham palace

Back to work again! And also back to the royal family. I had the honour of working in one of the biggest restaurants at the Queen’s coronation festival, right next to the stage where a lot of live bands, drama and dance groups and even an Indian drumming group performed. As you can imagine, the gardens at Buckingham Palace were immense. I just kept looking round at this expanse of land, bigger than some of the parks I’ve been to, and thinking ‘Wow. This is someone’s back garden’. Obviously the natural beauty of the grounds was ruined by all the stalls, stages, marquees and chairs that had to be put up, but underneath it all, you could tell it was beautiful all the same. Again a great atmosphere, a little bit of an older crowd and certain VIP stations which served celebrities such as John Cleese (whom I had the pleasure of serving) and Beverly Knight (who ordered fish and chips from me in the most delightful East London accent).

May not have the rhythm and pace of a sporting event, but is also definitely something you need to try.

4 stars

Thorpe Park

Must I really go on? This will be a short one because I’m sure anyone who lives in or around London has been to this popular theme park. All  I can say is that ever since getting lost in there when I was 2 years old, I’ve been itching to go back. 2 years ago, when I finally got the chance, I chickened out and only went on the milder rides, after getting soaked on a ride called ‘Tidal Wave’ (I know, I should’ve guessed right?) But this time, with a lot more bravado in my pocket and thrill-seeking friends by my side, I went on as many rides as time could allow and Thorpe Park could offer. My favourite was obviously ‘Saw’ which unlike other fast, scary rides wasn’t over in two seconds and also had a lot of twists and turns to it. Like a thorough lover, it took you through every emotion your body was capable of and made you go weak at the knees, asking yourself what possessed you to think you could handle it. But after its done, it always leaves you gagging for more.

Even for all you wimps, I beg you to try every ride you can. Trust me, your thrill-seeking days will begin.

5 stars

Leicester square

This was probably my favourite outing and the first time it really started to dawn on me just how amazing and encapsulating London is. Ok, so I went to more than just Leicester Square, starting off at Big Ben and ending up somewhere near Chinatown, but due to my appalling geography skills, let’s just generalise it with one place name. Many people say you need money to enjoy London, but that is absolutely not the case. In the intense summer sun, I watched tourists perfectly happy to sit in the centre of Trafalgar square or in parks like Hyde park, eating a picnic prepared at home and taking pictures of all the numerous and breathtaking sights London has to offer. Walking around Chinatown was definitely my favourite part. As an avid fan of oriental cuisine, I have always tried to get my friends to go to this ‘boulevard of dreams’  which I just thought was a street of chinese takeaways (more than good enough for me). Instead, I found very Chinese-style gates and pillar that led into cobbled streets filled with Mandarin and Cantonese menus and all different classes of restaurant, from the very top end meal to your local £8.99 buffet. Though I ended up dining in Costa, due to lack of funds and appetite, just walking around, seeing the people of all races; getting drawn in by the restaurant proprietors and inhaling the delicious scents was complete heaven for me. And the vibrant colour and animation of the M’n’M world just around the corner was the icing on the cake of the whole day

After a day in this area, I dare you not to fall in love with London.

4 stars

Museums (science and natural history)

This glorious day was further proof to me that you do not need money to enjoy London. Starting off at the science museum, my cousin and I got a little carried away answering philosophical questions, interacting with their many stands and taking several pictures of each innovative invention which changed the face of one industry or another, due to merely the inventor’s knowledge of science.  Also, as both of us are writers, each display sparked a new conversation about a story that could be based in one of these historical  times, or on one of the inventions and every single one of the inventive artworks sparked a new plug in our vivid imagination. The natural history museum, though beautiful upon entrance, was not as fun as I remembered it. After you went up the escalator that made it seem as if you were going into the core of the earth, the excitement kind of stopped there. In place of the towering dinosaurs and expeditions that I remember as a child, was a load of rocks, each looking the same to me, that somehow tell a story of the earth. Maybe one for the geologists, but for the rest of us that couldn’t care less about sedimentary rock formation, I would give this one a miss.

Science good, History bad.

3 stars

London Dungeons

Situated in an enchantingly beautiful area of London, this place was  a sight to behold. I have honestly never seen a place, especially in impertinent London, that does so much to entice its customers. Every staff member, from the ticket salesperson to the gift shop attendant was dressed up in gory make-up and fitting costumes, telling us things like ‘Have a bewitching day’ and ‘I hope you get what you deserve’. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that my friend knew some of them and ended up catching up on work gossip, I don’t think they would have ever left character. Although the over-the-top performances was more for the benefit of the little children, no-one can deny that they really tried to give you an amazingly accurate experience. It is an ingenious way to take you through a tour of historical London, from the demon barber on fleet street, to the doctors office where the plague was sweeping through the city, they brought a very interesting time in London’s history to life, with spectacular lighting, award-winning performances and hilarious costumes and make-up.

Though you shouldn’t go without an excitable little child, by the end I’m sure you will be glad you did.

5 stars

 

 

I’m sorry if that is a bit of an eyeful. I managed to miss out the ‘Trayvon Martin’ protest I had the privilege of attending outside the US embassy, the gorgeous Dorchester-owned hotel that I most certainly will be having a wedding or some sort of celebration at (If God permits me that size of paycheck) or the wanderer’s trip I took through Piccadilly Circus but in case you haven’t got the message yet, London (and places around it) is an absolutely delightful place to be. Its hard to believe when you walk through the crowded outskirts of east or south London, but trust me, there is still magnificent beauty in this old town. You just have to find it!

 

{Look out for my next post on the tragedy that befell a young actor in the states}

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7 thoughts on “Rediscovering London town

  1. I just visited London a few months back and might be going down again this Feb. Could totally use these tips 🙂

  2. yh Buckingham palace is worth a trip, but if you want to see royal grounds, I’ve heard Windsor castle near slough is pretty fascinating. And the tour they give you sounds very thorough

  3. Pingback: Join the Conversation (New Blog!) | The Yellow Brick Road

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