Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Things to do in London

I'm just back from a research trip to London - at least, that's my story, and I am sticking to it! No question about enjoying myself, or going to theatres, or anything like that. The research is supposed, one day, to become a book. And a thesis. In the meantime I thought I'd share a few odds and ends about being in London. Some are odder than others. A kind of unofficial guide book.

  • Trail following. These trails pop up from time to time - decorated objects on display around the city. At Easter it was Faberge type eggs, at the moment it is Wenlocks and Mandevilles, for the Games. Apparently there are 82 of them. I came across 6. My friend in the picture is the Novel Wenlock (I'd have said Oscar Wilde was drama, but as you know, I have theatrical leanings.) He's just off the Strand, behind St Martin's church, alongside the Wilde statue.  

  • Plaque spotting. Blue plaques, recording the former homes of famous people. I find who lived where fascinating. 
  • Looking up. This actually applies in any city - all sorts of things are visible on the tops of buildings - my favourites in London are the occasional weird glimpses of trees that indicate a (probably very posh) roof garden. 
  • Window boxes. London is full of them. Usually they have predictable stuff - bizzie lizzies, geraniums, begonias. I spotted one, outside an up market restaurant, that looked like a small wild flower meadow. I might have thought they'd forgotten to weed it, but there were contract gardeners carefully renewing the planting at the time.  
  • Scooters. If you see someone on a scooter with a map propped up in front of them it may be a would-be cabbie, doing The Knowledge. Black cab drivers have to have an exhaustive knowledge of the city and are tested on it, hence the riding around the back streets. Someone I once worked with was studying to apply for his licence. Lunch times were spent testing him on fictitious routes. 
  • Buskers. For some reason all the saxophonists in the city seem to emerge in hot weather. 
  • Walking. The centre of London is not as big as you think. On Sunday morning I was on Hungerford Bridge (the pedestrian, Jubilee bit)  looking at the newest landmark on the London skyline, The Shard. Three quarters of an hour later I was standing almost underneath it. It's big - and a very strange shape for an office block. 

So- that's it, my odder guide to London.

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