On a beautifully sunny day off a few weeks back, I finally visited the Tower of London for the first time ever, and in the spirit of being a tourist in my own city, spent five hours wandering around soaking it all in (note to self: audio guides are actually properly worth spending a few extra quid on). I got a little weepy-happy, a classic Penny move, as I reflected on how grateful I am to live in a city of such history and culture.
The whole thing got me thinking about all the touristy and not-so-touristy things I’ve yet to do in London. I’m coming up to my 8th year here, but there’s always so much to see and explore, and so little money/time/inclination to do anything other than lie in bed watching Netflix.
If you’ve read a few of my posts, you might be picking up the impression that I quite like lists (of things to do before turning 30, or of goals for the year for instance), so it won’t surprise you to hear that when I was relatively new to the city I wrote myself a London bucket list.
In fact, that very list inspired me to start a short-lived blog several years ago when, in response to most of the things on my list being at least £20, I attempted to do something new for £5 or less at every tube stop in Zone 1- a tricky feat when you’ve already hit up most of the major free museums.
The blog withered into a well-deserved demise but the challenge limps on at a pace of roughly one stop every oh-crap-it’s-been-nearly-a-year-maybe-I-should-try-that-again. I’ve currently marked off 26 of the 60 London underground stations in Zone 1, so at this rate, having started it in 2014, I should be finished in a mere six and a half years’ time. A worthy use of over a decade of my life I’m sure you’ll agree. Luckily my delightful nerd man is along for the ride and we now have a shared google sheet to track our adorkable adventures trawling round obscure free ‘attractions’. Result!
Anyway, I thought it was perhaps time to revisit this London bucket list and write myself one now; now that the city feels like home, but yet still has the capacity to both charm and infuriate me in equal measure.
What experiences do I now want to tick off the list before I at some stage move away from Lahn-dan? Well, I’m about to tell you, aren’t I..
Have one day where I wear perfectly appropriate clothing to navigate the tube, the outdoor temperature and the arctic air conditioned climate of my office
I cannot fathom how some people can sit in their coats on the tube and appear not to be a sweaty sweaty mess. How? HOW?! I’m there ripping off everything I can without risking arrest, having to hold my awkward coat-scarf-jumper bundle on the packed carriage before inevitably freezing my arse off and having to put it all back on for the seven minute walk to the office, to then repeat a cycle of jumper off/jumper on for the rest of the day as the sadistic centrally-controlled air con does whatever the fuck it wants.
Not to mention summer time, when I feel like a glorious flower child in floaty florals until I step on my skirt, someone steps on my sandalled feet, and I arrive at work feeling like a sweaty urchin who’s pushed the dress code to its absolute limits and hasn’t even had the decency to look good whilst doing it. And then the air con clicks on…
Find the best vegan dessert in the city
A thinly veiled excuse for me to eat more cake. Vegan options are everywhere now and that is AWESOME, but mainstream restaurants are sorely lacking in good vegan dessert (no, I don’t want a sorbet), and when I go to vegan restaurants I’ve often stuffed myself too much on mains and sides to have a dessert. Oh, woe is me. There are some excellent desserts out there and it’s my personal mission to taste them all.
Go to a club that all the cool kids go to and actually have a good time
I went to Fabric once but it was for work. In the day time. And it turned out they didn’t need me so I went home after fifteen minutes. I know Fabric itself is no more, but there is a part of me that, despite it likely requiring a personality transplant, imagines a big night out at some huge club or warehouse rave somewhere and actually imagines that I’d enjoy myself.
There’s only one way to test this theory. I’ll see you in the queue for the cloakroom.
Go to a Christmas service at Westminster Abbey
I can’t really explain why this one holds such a pull for me as an atheist, but I love a traditional Christmas song and I just think there’d be something magical about it. Perhaps I’m trying to live the life of a character in a Richard Curtis movie. Speaking of which-
Find out if there still are private gardens like the one in Notting Hill and, if so, go to one and say ‘woopsy daisy’ a lot
I want to weep at a plaque on a bench dedicated to lifelong partnership and live out my ‘just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her’ fantasies, okay? Sue me.
Go to Secret Cinema
Secret Cinema is probably so ubiquitous that it’s now considered a basic bitch thing to do, but I still think it would be really cool and I’m jealous of my friend who went to it for free back in the good old days when the film was actually a secret and tickets weren’t a zillion pounds. It’s like she was a fan of a band before they ‘sold out’ and I’m trying to get a copy of their greatest hits on the cheap years later.
Do the London marathon
And by ‘do’, I mean, start/hobble/crawl.
I’m under no pretence that I could run the whole thing or do it in any sort of respectable time, but I wouldn’t be in it for the PBs so much as for the accomplishment and incredible atmosphere. My heart swells going to watch the marathon, it really does. People are capable of such incredible things and of giving such support and love to one another.
I’ve actually just cried a bit writing this. What a melt.
Understand the different exits at Old Street
I mean, do they actually change them every time? Like that bit in the Labyrinth where she marks an arrow on the pavement in lipstick and then a little creature changes its direction? Because, I swear to god, if I emerge at the wrong bit of that bloody roundabout one more time…