Me and…London

London skyline 2

I grew up in South West London. I think of myself as a Londoner of sorts, but I know that London is a series of villages just sewn together essentially and as such I am still a tourist in many parts of the capital. When I was in my 20s and visited central London with a group of American girls who I’d become friends with at University (in Brighton) I was, embarrassingly, a bit useless as a tour guide and one of the Americans was far more savvy about where we were at any given time.

But I know the parts I know well – I studied at (what was) the London College of Printing in South London at 18 and I did my Masters at City University in Islington, North London, some years later. I have worked at Shell Centre on the South Bank (linked via walkway to Waterloo station) and the Royal Chartered Institute of Surveyors in Parliament Square (my most vivid memory of which was peeking out the window watching Chris Eubank drive his monster truck round the square blaring the horn in protest against the ‘illegal wars’ in 2007 (he later went on to be arrested after parking illegally outside Downing St and nearly colliding with a double decker bus!).

My parents often used to take us to see child friendly musicals and plays at the National Theatre and treat us to meals and days out and about round Covent Garden – a magical place filled with street entertainers and, when I was a child, one of the flagship Body Shop stores, a wooden toyshop like an Aladdin’s cave of treasures and The Covent Garden General Store – where I first discovered the delights of Jelly Belly jellybeans with all their fascinating flavours (Later, during my days working at Shell we used to gather at the Long Island Iced Tea Shop for cocktails if anyone had a hen do or leaving party – and there I discovered even more fascinating flavours!) I discovered Camden as a teenager and adored the series of quirky cool interconnected markets around the canal. I’ve even had one of my book group meetings in the living quarters inside the Tower of London (where one of the girl’s army boyfriends was stationed at the time).

Those are my London credentials if you will, but I have to admit it’s been years since I really enjoyed London life and I miss it. I moved out to darkest Surrey/Hampshire in 2008 and this is where I have started a family.

The hubster is born and bred Surrey though. He had a stint working for BTP out of Waterloo which, it seems to me from anecdotes, mostly consisted of grappling drunks off tube trains and picking up body parts from railway lines. It’s little wonder that he has negative feelings towards this bustling metropolis, but leaves us somewhat  at loggerheads with regards the children. I want to introduce my adorable munchkins to the joys of a city I know and love, he’s not so keen.

London has some amazing fun opportunities for children – I would love to see the wonder in their eyes at the sight of the London Eye, or the excitement at travelling on an underground train or catching a glimplse of the big pelicans in St James’ Park. The museum of transport, the museum of childhood, the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum or twiddling dials and knobs at the Science Museum.

And there are so many things I want to see and places I want to visit too – the Shard wasn’t even built when I last commuted to London.

One day soon…

 

26 thoughts on “Me and…London

  1. I used to go to the Long Island Iced Tea Bar! I know what you mean. We have the Capital on our doorstep yet we rarely go there. We once took visitors on the open top bus and it was great, I learned so much. I used to commute so I hated the idea of going back at the weekend, but now my kids are older I would like to take them to see more things. They love the whole experience of taking the train (even though it’s only 30 minutes). By the way, the Shard is amazing.

    • Ah wasn’t the Long Island Iced Tea Shop fab! Those were the days! I know what you mean about the commuting. I remember thinking no way would I ever want to do this every day of my working life. I only ever really worked in temp jobs in Central London. I will definitely be taking them into London lots when they’re a bit older (finances allowing!!). 🙂

  2. Nice to know more about you hon. I’m a true blue Londoner and feel there is no better place than London in the sunshine, but I don’t miss the full time City rat race at all! The museums are fab, I’m sure your boys will love them xx #sharewithme

    • I don’t miss the rat race either! I used to hate having to squish into busy trains, especially at this time of year when it was sweltering. Looking forward to some fab free museum action!! X

    • I can imagine the Seychelles must be just about the polar opposite of London Chantelle! 🙂 I think living somewhere like London kind of spoils you for ever living somewhere that doesn’t have culture and choice and variety of entertainment/food etc, right at your fingertips. My mum and dad have contemplated moving away several times but in the end they have moved no further than about a half mile radius in the past 45 years!! X

  3. With family in South London and various friends that lived there over the years I have spent quite a lot of time in London and absolutely love it. It helps we only live about an hour away but I know so many people here who hate the place and never go, whereas I jump at any opportunity! I can’t wait to take my kids to all of the amazing places as they grow up as there is so much to see and do there! I was supposed to go this weekend to meet some friends, but have had to back out as I just can’t handle the walking with my pelvis at the mo 😦 booo 😦 xx lovely post! #sharewithme

    • I didn’t realise you only lived an hour away Caroline. Is that an hour by train into central London or by car to south london? Maybe one day (when SPD is far behind you!) we can meet up for a little bit of London time?! X

  4. I am a complete Northerner but spent about 8 years commuting to London. I really love love love the place but then I wanted to settle down and had to give it up. I haven’t been in ages but really want to make plans to visit again

    • It is a place that draws you back time and again isn’t it? The fact of the matter is it’s always changing, some things are ancient and have seen centuries pass and others are so ridiculously modern. It’s hard to keep up when you go away for a couple of years…

  5. I’m fascinated by the history of London Sam, (not that I’m suggesting you’re an old, historical figure lol). At the moment I’m reading a book on Restoration London which goes into all sorts of things. It really is amazing and more so if you’d lived there, I imagine.

    • I loved the book “Restoration” (I think they made it into a film with Robert Downey Jr!) – it was the first book my book group ever read (we were all London based at the time) – set in the era of Charles I and the Great Fire of London. Really good read – loving that historical fiction set in London too.

    • It’s pretty much got everything Marie, both good and bad, like any big city. Got to be on the bucket list though, right? I’ll happily get you lost in Soho one day (I know you Americans love that 😉 ) X

  6. I have only done the tourist spots and sightseeing but would love to take a family trip there and see all that it has to offer. I have heard lots about it. Great post of your london roots. That’s amazing. Things change so much from where I grew up and now visiting it’s weird and amazing to come back to it see the changes. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  7. I love London too and lived fairly close as a child and teenager. Now that I live up north I love visiting as a tourist. There is something special about the buzz when you get off the train 🙂 My husband works down there now and hates all the tourists! 😀
    x x x

  8. My Husband and I went to The Shard a couple of weeks ago for breakfast. I definitely recommend it. And there were a couple of kids at Acqua for breakfast so you could even make a day of it with your family.

    • Ooh get you going to the Shard for breakfast! How posh! 🙂 I’m not sure if I can justify taking the kids all the way into London just for breakfast 😉 But yes, we could make a day of it – hopefully one day soon… must be much easier if you have a spouse who actually likes London too.

  9. One of my friends works for Shell! What a small world (or possibly a huge company with thousands of employees!). Our kids love the Natural History Museum. I was thinking of taking Crevette again next week when I pick up his little sister’s passport at the embassy.

    • Er, yes Shell is a rather massive corporation Mel! 🙂 I only ever really temped there too – in the old Photographic Department and Library which they binned off years ago. It was a fab place to work for a while – amazing canteen – everything free! Had it’s own Olympic size pool in the basement and it’s own theatre! Must, must, must get to some museums – is two too young though??

  10. Lovely post. I plan to bring Lil G to London although we aren’t as close to you so it may just have to be an annual trip. I’ve managed to visit myself this year for 1 day which was nice. We are much closer to Manchester and love this as a city. Like London there is lots to do for little ones and when we take him in August I know he will have fun. He’s visited several times but it will be this time when he notices the City as he is older and much more aware. Surrey sounds lovely too though! #ShareWithMe

  11. Sam whenever I go into Cov Gdn market I always think of you and I buying that plastic balloon making stuff that came in tubes. I think it’s probably since been outlawed as a highly toxic material but lord we used to have such fun with it. And do you remember us also buying real jumping beans? I don’t think the EU would like that either.

    • I remember the stuff you speak of Rob – just not buying it!! I remember having real jumping beans too – did we get them in Covent Garden? Yes we were clearly into all the illegal stuff as kids 🙂 X

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