London

Visitors

Following on from an amazing three days in Liverpool with Evie, the next three days brought with them a second reunion (although after a much shorter time period than the last) as two of my university friends came to stay with me.

Imogen and Lenya arrived in London at about 12:30 pm on Sunday afternoon and I met them at their respective tube / coach stations. Finding Imogen at her train station was easy, despite the fact that she had left her phone at home; finding Lenya was not. However, we did finally all find each other and, as they did not have very heavy bags, we decided to stay in London until evening. Our first stop was lunch and so we headed to Covent Garden to find somewhere to eat, to catch up and to compile an itinerary for the subsequent day. We ended up eating in Bella Italia, where we shared garlic pizza bread and chips. On the way to the restaurant however, we noticed ‘Milk Train’ – an ice cream and candyfloss place that I had really wanted to go to – and so we headed there once we finished our lunch. At Milk Train I ordered a vanilla ice cream with candyfloss, whilst Imogen ordered (a rather unpleasant) green ice cream – the flavour of which we are still unsure… Unfortunately, our ice creams ended up literally falling apart within minutes of leaving the shop, but not before we managed to get our picture perfect Instagrams.*

*Well, not that picture perfect – but here are some that actually are!

After lunch and our very messy ice cream, we headed to Trafalgar Square, as it was both nearby and a typical touristy destination. As the weather was warm we spent a long time sitting on the steps (which Lenya hilariously struggled to climb up onto). Our aim was to obtain a nice photo of the three of us at Trafalgar Square but, as it had started to rain, our much-needed photographer was nowhere to be found. Thankfully, we did end up getting a photo in the end, but regretfully it showed no distinct sign of being at Trafalgar Square! After spending a while here, we headed back on the tube, this time to St Paul’s. We walked around for a bit, past the Tate and the Globe, and then began a very long walk to the very anti climatic London Bridge. Once on London Bridge, we stopped for a while to talk, before setting off in pursuit of dinner. But, as it was a Sunday, indeed nothing was open so we ended up on the tube once more, where we concluded at the sushi restaurant near to where I live.

Day Two saw us waking up at 8am and getting up at about 11; not quite the early morning that we had envisaged. Nonetheless, we quickly set off to the first destination (and the only one we actually made it to) on our itinerary: the Natural History Museum. As Imogen and I are history students, whilst Lenya does science, we concluded that this museum would be the perfect compromise and indeed it was. We arrived in South Kensington at around lunchtime, so our first stop was Nandos, where I enjoyed a lovely mushroom and halloumi burger, before navigating the beautiful streets of Kensington to the museum. We spent the majority of the afternoon at the Natural History Museum exploring all the exhibits that were available, from earthquakes to dinosaurs to cabinets of dead birds (which I was certainly not keen on). At the front of the museum was an escalator that led into a giant earth sculpture at the top, so that it seemed that you were entering into the centre of the earth. We ended up travelling up this escalator a few too many times!

Once we had exhausted all there was to see at the Natural History Museum, we briefly visited the Victoria and Albert Museum as it is next door. We went to the fashion exhibition first (Imogen’s pick) and then to look at the sculptures (Lenya’s much more reluctant pick). Finally we went to the beautiful jewelry exhibition, where we became embarrassingly engrossed in the design your own ring computer game. Once we finally moved on from the game – which was certainly not intended for people of our age – we decided to make the most of the hot weather by walking to Hyde Park, where we sat by The Serpentine and enjoyed a cold drink. As it began to approach dinner time, we jumped back on the tube to Covent Garden again, where we had dinner at Zizzis. More importantly though, we took photos on a lovely flower covered bench, which we waited at for literally twenty minutes to get our photo!

Tuesday brought with it a very early morning, which followed a very late night, as we had stayed up talking for ages. Thankfully, despite the sleepiness, both Lenya and Imogen made it onto their trains home with plenty of time to spare. The three days provided a lovely opportunity to catch up with friends that don’t live near to me, as well as an amazing chance to experience London as a tourist. As I have written about before, it is all too easy to take the amazing city that one lives in for granted and, thus, any opportunity to make the most of all that London has to offer is very much welcome.

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Natural History Museum
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Arts · History · London

My London Bucket List

At the beginning of this summer holiday – during the long days of Ramadan when time was certainly not flying by – I began to compile a long list of places that I want to go to during the months that I am at home. Despite being from London, most of my childhood experiences of London were through a lens not dissimilar to that of a tourist; on one hand London was home, but on the other it was an exciting place yet to be properly explored, understood and conquered. Since moving back to London, this perception shifted comfortingly towards the former and unfortunately away from the latter. However, London remains to be a city full of attractions, museums and places to explore and this summer I aim to venture into the city that I have become increasingly attached to over the past few years…

Yesterday, Grace and I went to the ‘Old Operating Theatre’, which is one of the many lesser known museums on my list. The very small museum, which is set up in the attic of an 18th century Church, is home to the oldest surviving operating theatre in Europe, dating back to 1822. Having braved the long spiral staircase to the top, Grace and I were ready to explore the museum. The museum consisted of several displays, including cases of old surgical tools and a “Cabinet of Curiosities: Animals in Medicine”. There were also innumerable herbs on display, as this attic was the site of an old apothecary. After exploring the displays in museum, we went up the stairs to view the operating theatre itself. Despite being small, the museum was very interesting, especially as it is not one of the more common museums that one immediately thinks of when they think of London.

After leaving the Old Operating Theatre, we took a short (although not as short as Grace claimed it would be) walk to the Tate Modern. In converse, this gallery is certainly not lesser known, nor new to me, as I have been there many times. However, it was an enjoyable experience nonetheless. Whilst I would perhaps hesitate to describe myself as a modern art aficionado, or actually even a fan, I did like a number of the pieces, in particular the pieces with historical context and the photography series. What’s more, I definitely enjoyed watching Grace’s undisguisable lack of amusement at many of the pieces! A particular mention has to be given to an art installation made entirely of human hair; this is certainly not because it was my favourite but in fact quite the opposite – as a concept it was traumatic enough, let alone as something I have actually had the displeasure of seeing.

The day commenced with an obligatory trip to Pizza Express, which, no matter how much we complain about it, always ends up being the go-to restaurant. Over all, it was lovely to explore a new museum and learn about the history of a place of which I had previously been unaware.

One place ticked off the London summer bucket list!