Sunday, 31 August 2008

My First Blogging Century

Today is my 100th London Ding Dong post so I reckon this milestone warrants a little self-congratulation and a précis of the last few months!

100 posts ago I morphed into Sparkly Songbird (left) and decided to rediscover London after living abroad for several years. Have I achieved my well intended goal yet? The answer is no and the reason is that London is simply too vast, too diverse and too progressive to ever really discover fully. In reality, it it is hard to do little more than scratch the surface. The flip side is that one can never get bored of London as it evolves continuously despite its magnificent history and traditions.

On a personal level I have re-familiarised myself with the city and discovered some wonderful new places along the way; I have visited places I’ve grown up knowing about but never got around to seeing; I’ve seen some places with adult eyes that brought back long forgotten childhood memories and re-lived a few moments from my childhood or student days.

In the years that I’ve been away my reaction to the hustle and bustle of London has probably worsened – I still can’t relax totally in the busy metropolis after living by the beach for so long! I have rediscovered my phobia of going underground and therefore rediscovered the joy of using red buses and watching the hustle and bustle from a safe distance! In fact, I positively love travelling by bus in London these days - it is by far my favourite mode of transport!

I’ve learnt that London can be extortionately expensive but, if you’re prepared to do a little research then there are some fabulous bargains to be had. I’ve found that while some people in London are constantly in a rush and have no time to stop for anything or anyone, there are others who will go out of their way to be helpful and give you their time and/or knowledge. I’ve noticed that most tourists –of any nationality- do not like or do not know how to queue!

I’m now aware that if I dress for cold or wet weather then the sun will shine and if I dress for warm weather it will rain or be cold! I’ve concluded that London has its own weather regardless of forecast or season!

I’ve discovered that old habits die hard (looking out for the Queen at Buckingham Palace); places disappear (Capital Radio Café in Leicester Square); and that major artworks can appear over night and legally be painted over again the next day (Banksy).

I think, most importantly, I no longer feel like a stranger in London. I wouldn’t say I am an authority on London but in the last few months I’ve learnt enough to recommend, forewarn and advise anyone who is listening or reading! There are big differences between those who live in London, those who just work in London and those who visit London for pleasure. I come mainly into the latter category and now know London in the way that most inquisitive tourists would/should. I don’t know the best pubs to drink in or which night bus takes you to Shepherds Bush but I do know some great tourist attractions and can make suggestions for holiday itineraries in London!

Of course, I have saved a lot of time in research and ticket office queues by mostly using the London Pass for sightseeing. I highly recommend this little sightseeing card, particularly if you are visiting London from overseas. The ability to plan your trip ahead of arrival – both physically and financially – should not be underestimated! I think most holidaymakers want a small taste of everything that a city has to offer and the London Pass definitely makes sightseeing accessible in that way.

So, with the first 100 posts under my belt, a little bit of London knowledge established and with the English “summer” nearly over, it’s time for London Ding Dong to receive an Autumn makeover. I’m not exactly sure what this will entail yet but I have a few thoughts so watch this space. In the meantime… thank you for reading, thanks for your comments and thanks for the encouragement!


Descartes said...

Well, congrats, sorry I have not be stopping by so I missed this great milestone. May there be hundreds more to come.

Sparkly Songbird said...

Thank you! I'm afraid I have been the same with visiting your blog recently - has been hard enough finding the time to write my own! Hope all is well over in your land though! :)
SS x