If I have a question about London I turn to Victoria. Not only is she born and bred font of information she is a brilliant and interesting tour guide. She should charge, but I am glad she doesn’t because that way we have more money for the requisite tea (coffee for her) and cake when we are having an adventure. I am definitely going to look into doing some of these. Victoria is also a brilliant friend and very sensible – she always puts me right when I am dithering about this or that. I hope you enjoy this post and check out some of her suggestions.
Ten things to do in London without children
Now I’m as much a fan as anyone of doing stuff with my kids in London, but sometimes it’s really quite nice to leave them at home. Here are ten things that it’s better to do without them.
Dennis Severs’ House is a place where ghosts live. It’s like stepping into a beautiful eighteenth century oil painting. Lit solely by candles, oil lamps and firelight, it smells of beeswax, oranges and toast cooked over the fire, and you can hear church bells ringing in the distance and a maid making up the fire in the next room. You are instructed to walk around in silence, to better use your eyes, ears and nose. Shake off the rushing and jangling of modern life. Adjust to seeing by candlelight and breathing deeply. It’s a place everyone should visit at least once.
Swimming in the Serpentine in Hyde Park is surprisingly peaceful, with only the muted sound of children enjoying the paddling pool up the hill, and a band performing at the other end of the park occasionally breaking the silence. The water is cool and dark, with shoals of minnows and water weeds under the surface and waterboatmen skating on top. And you’re swimming in the Queen’s garden pond, I always get a kick out of that.
The Jacobean theatre at the Globe is truly like stepping back in time. It’s entirely candlelit (there’s a theme here, I’m a fan of candles), with live period music and the wonderful acting you’d expect. Globe tickets are also cheaper than you might think, with seats often available for under £20.
Watching the recording of TV or radio shows is great, fun, way to get a free night out. It can be really interesting to go the recording of a show you normally watch on TV and see how it’s made and how much they cut out.
Of course museums are great places to take children, but did you know that they’re often open in the evenings? Wandering around an interesting exhibition with a cocktail in hand and just the quiet murmur of other adults having civilized conversations, has a lot to recommend it. They often put on live music, talks and other activities and some of them have singles nights, should that be your thing…
The Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London has taken place every night for over 700 years. It’s free to watch the Yeomen Warders pacing the bounds at 9pm with a giant set of clanking keys, lanterns in hand. A little slice of London history.
London has always brewed beer, of course, but in recent years craft brewing has exploded in the city. Not literally. A lot of the new breweries offer tours, some of them free, others not, but you usually get to try the wares.
At St Martins in the Fields, the church opposite the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square, they have free lunchtime classical concerts. It’s a beautiful church and a lovely excuse for a sit down between museums.
You might think that London isn’t good for cyclists, but actually it’s a brilliant way to see the city. I think guided cycle rides are the way to go, you don’t have to worry about traffic or think about the route, your guide does all that for you. There are lots of people offering them but I’m particularly keen on Breeze rides, which are just for women and very friendly. You have to provide your own bike (other setups lend you one) but a Boris Bike will often do, as the rides aren’t high octane. You’ll see another, greener, side to London and get a bit of exercise into the bargain.
I love comedy and what’s not to love about something free? Free comedy is completely brilliant, and pretty easy to come by in London. Win win!
I have asked ten bloggers to guest post for me in the run up to my 10 year anniversary at the start of July. I really hope that you enjoy these posts, and visit their blogs to say hello, or wave on Twitter. Each one of them has been a special part of my blogging life and I am so honoured to call them my friends.