London: a home away from home

London is one of my favourite cities in the world (ironic, given that we’ve made a deliberate choice not to move there). It’s lively everywhere you go, it’s green, beautiful and I suppose it helps that everything is in English. It’s a city that I feel immediately at home in. 

We stayed a week in the ideally located Casa Vernon (aka George’s flat) and we could have so easily spent more time there. Shout out to his awesome flat mates for hosting us for so long! 

Our decision to purchase week long tube passes expanded our sightseeing radius much further, so there’s no way we were going to get through it all. Thankfully both Andy and I had visited London previously, so it was easier to refine our must dos. Especially as we were both looking forward to living like locals and catching up with friends too.

In between our local pub visits, Sunday roasts with Yorkshire pudding, riding the tube ‘just for fun’ and spending our day’s budget in one go at M&M world, we saw loads of our friends and also did some pretty awesome things, one of which included spotting Kit Harington (aka Jon Snow) at Hyde Park. 

My favourite memory will undoubtedly be West End. Because I’m greedy I knew one show just wouldn’t be enough… so I planned well ahead and went to two. I had been waiting almost my entire life to see Lion King and it did not disappoint. The music, costumes and sets were all mind blowing. 

It set a very high standard for Hamilton to try and match the following night. Hamilton was incredible, faultless in fact – I loved all the singing, dancing and in particular, the plot itself. Everyone kept asking me my favourite and I think Lion King won out, for the sole reason it fulfilled a life long desire. 

Ever heard of Sofar Sounds? Neither had I. Essentially it is frequent gigs occurring all around London and beyond, where the exact location remains undisclosed until the day of. The gig comprises three varying acts by upcoming talented artists and can range from bands to poets to individual acts (which is exactly what we had), trying to break on to the scene. 

Usually the gigs are BYO food and drink, however on the night we went we had the incredibly good fortune of it being hosted at the Budweiser HQ, where it was an open bar and, wait for it, espresso martini’s were on tap! Why, hello. It was an amazing night and I have duly noted the names of each of the acts I saw, for the day that they crack the big time. 

Food. From eating salted beef bagels in Shoreditch to chowing down a Fanny’s Kebab (and having the best cider of my life) at Victoria Street Market, we experienced it all. The aforementioned were two of my favourite spots to eat at whilst we were in London, but there’s also no going past our brunch at the Duck and Waffle. 

40 floors up, we ate like Madame Fancypants as we positively devoured our crispy duck legs, waffles and mustard maple syrup all the while sipping on our somewhat eccentric cocktails and soaking up the million dollar views. 

Crosstown Donuts also deserves a mention as well as ye faithful Dollar Chicken Express (slash George would insist on its inclusion – this Vauxhall local does do really good fried chicken!). It remains a miracle that we still managed to squeeze in a few home cooked meals in addition to our traditional Sunday roast. 

Views. There are obviously a trillion places in a city of sky scrapers, but two of my favourite ones (excluding Duck and Waffle) both came at zero cost. 

The first is the Sky Garden. Located in the seriously cool Walkie-Talkie building, the Sky Garden is on the 35th floor and gives stunning panoramic views from the centre of town. We didn’t have a booking (highly recommended) but we tried our luck anyway and were successful. 

The other cool view was from Greenwich (yes, home to the GMT line from which all time is set) where we climbed the hill in the park and it looked back across the city. 

Finally, an activity which almost paralleled West End, especially in terms of a bucket list tick, was Harry Potter World. It was different to what I expected: more of a self guided tour through what is essentially a museum of the filming location, packed with sets, information and numerous challenges to spot the golden snitch. 

It was eye opening to see the small space in which the actors actually filmed the movies and it really shows how much magic goes on behind the scenes. It takes about four hours to see the whole thing, with a necessary butterbeer pit stop on the way! 

London was a treat-filled treat and we were both super sad to leave (maybe we should reconsider moving there 😉 ), especially George, my cousin Summer and all our other living abroad friends. One consolation is that we know we’ll be back, sooner or later!

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