Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Discovering London

The majority of my life I have lived within 40 miles of London.

As a small child, my Mum would take me on the train and we’d visit galleries or museums and sometimes we’d visit my Dad in his London office and he’d take us out for lunch. In our teens, my friends and I spent a whole weekend chasing our favourite boy band (New Kids On The Block… ssshhhh!) all around London from Wembley Stadium to their hotel near Harrods and everywhere in between!

I dreamed of living and working in the “big smoke” and inevitably joined the throng of penniless London students. After graduating I rented a quaint mews house in the Royal Borough of Kensington and, for three years, enjoyed a relatively quiet, almost village-like existence just a stones throw away from all the action. But, life has a habit of turning upside down and inside out and, before I’d had a piece of that London action, I had swapped the big city for the beach. I moved to Spain belatedly regretting my apathy towards London life.

Eight years later I am back in the UK and realise that, all around the world, people take their location for granted. Living in or near a big city like London, we should grab all that it has to offer us but, because it is and always will be there, because we spend most of our earnings on our rent/mortgage, because we spend hours travelling every day, because we are tired, because we have family commitments, because we are too busy, because we can’t be bothered… because, because, because… whatever the reason, we don’t make the most of it. It is a travesty that visitors to London, tourists on a sightseeing holiday, learn more about this wonderful city in a few days than I have in 34 years.

So here is my plan. Project: London Ding Dong! I am going to become a home-grown tourist and will “rediscover” London. Ok, so unless you count school trips to the Tower of London and the Cutty Sark, walking past Kensington Palace every day for three years and shopping in Oxford Street as a discovery, I admit I never really discovered London the first time around but please allow me a little poetic license! With time on my hands, I am going to do the sightseeing, the theatres, the restaurants, the festivals, the exhibitions and the concerts. I am going to take everything that London has to throw at me but hopefully without spending all my money! London on a budget? Maybe it’s a pipedream but time will tell!

Some people have a mid-life crisis and choose to rediscover themselves; I’m having a London-crisis and so, on behalf of all those who feel they’ve let London pass them by or who wish to avoid that fate, I am going to rediscover London just for you… and me, and the
tourists, the visitors, the holidaymakers, the sightseers…

I hope you’ll stay with me for the duration of my project and send me your suggestions and comments. I have one small request: please tell your friends, family and colleagues about “ London Ding Dong” as I am only doing this for fame! Ha ha!

Did I really just admit to following New Kids On The Block around London?!?!?

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