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10 Things :: August 2011

10 Things on the tenth :: August 2011
10 things I love about London
I had planned to save this particular topic for another month, since I just wrote ten things about a place last month, but this week just seems to be the best time to embrace this topic. So this month my ten things are all things I love about this place where I live: London.

london double-decker bus
Public transportation. We sold our car a year ago and haven’t looked back at all – that’s how much public transportation can make a difference. Between the train, the tube, the bus and the DLR, you can get anywhere you want to go in a number of ways. Last week Sally came down to London for the day and she asked me if I had the tube map memorised, because I had been able to tell her which line to catch off the top of my head. I don’t have it entirely memorised, because oh goodness is that a big map, but I think everyone here gets used to the lines they use most frequently and then it becomes just as easy to know as learning the streets of your neighbourhood. (Admittedly, our official cab drivers in London learn way more in terms of maps and I have the utmost respect.) There are so many reasons I prefer public transport to driving, from not worrying about traffic jams to being able to use my travel time to work, read or catch up with someone. Also, I think the tube map is the very definition of beautiful design.

10 things I love about London
History. This city is so old and has been so many things over time. You can just walk up to Roman walls or stand in the Tower of London. If you visit here from far away, please learn the difference between London Bridge and Tower Bridge and their unique histories. (They are constantly confused in popular culture. It fills me with dismay.) In fact, of all the history things I could mention here, go to St Magnus the Martyr church, a quiet little place that contains more information on the history of London Bridge than pretty much anywhere, between the amazing models and the knowledge of the people there. You’ll be an expert in ten minutes, so just go.

The food scene. I know, England has this reputation for bland food. It is wholly unwarranted. When I hear tourists say they never had a nice meal in London, I immediately think they didn’t bother to try anything that wasn’t a chain restaurant with mass-produced food. Of course we have plenty of places that serve up quick, cheap and/or bland. But once you get past that and find somewhere worthwhile, there’s a whole new world. The Gate is such an amazing vegetarian restaurant that The Boy (who is very much a meat-eater) won’t just eat there – he will suggest it. Wahaca is the British-grown twist on Mexican street food that kicked off London’s new craze for Mexican cuisine. (Be warned: as Mexican food is the latest trend here, we also have a lot of bandwagon restaurants that haven’t even figured out how to make an enchilada.) Byron is quickly becoming less a set of indie burger joints and more a chain (is Byron the new Nandos?) but so far they haven’t gotten so big to lose the quality. None of those suggestions are high-end fine dining and only one of the three takes reservations. I’m going to stop now because I could write a book about my favourite places to eat in London (oh heck, I haven’t even mentioned curry. My neighbourhood has six assorted curry restaurants and they are all pretty much awesome), but today, these three get my suggestion as easy-to-eat places that prove London’s food isn’t bland and boring.

10 things I love about London
Walking paths & parks. If you like to walk at all, come to London and pick up a guidebook to London walks or go on a walking tour (those are themed – Jack the Ripper, British architecture, Harry Potter references, The Beatles, literary greats and so on and so forth). See this place above ground at your own pace. Walk along the river or through more complicated paths. I never tire of the walks you can follow here and still have a list of many more miles to walk. And the parks are perfection. People often ask if I miss having a garden since we live in a flat, but as we live near an amazing park, I don’t miss it for one second. There are even deer there. I’m headed to a different park today actually – more swans, fewer deer.

Coffee. I know you would expect tea. It’s England. There should be tea. And there is, but in the past five years or so, London has become an amazing place for coffee. There are two World Barista Champions making espresso here (admittedly, Denmark has three) but also a host of places that are roasting and serving coffee that just ranks there with the best in the world whether you go in for championship tournaments or not. That has fuelled a small but strong coffee culture in London that is rare in the rest of the country. Yes, London has at least one Starbucks and Costa on every street, but there’s also Flat White, Kaffeine, Monmouth, Dose and so on. Random trivia: when I volunteered to help London tourists, I had to pick a London specialist subject and talk about it at length as part of the interview process. I talked about coffee.

10 things I love about london
The Weather. Ha. No, really. It’s rarely ridiculously hot. It’s rarely ridiculously cold. And I don’t mind the rain. I love it.

Theatre and performances. Obviously. You can see a show whenever you want. And whatever you want, whether it’s experimental fringe in a tiny space or a glossy musical production like Wicked or Phantom of the Opera. Heck, you can go to the actual opera. Phantoms not included. Or the ballet. Or a concert of any kind. Or to see Shakespeare expressed in hip-hop choreography performed by teenagers. On a Tuesday, I walk down a road that has several theatres and my timing is usually just before the doors close for the show to start. On a clear evening, the street will be filled with people meeting their dates and friends to see a show. Even last night. (I am in love with how the theatres stayed open this week. The show must go on, indeed.)

10 things I love about London
Museums and galleries. If I get to be excited about people on stage, I also get to be excited about things on walls and in displays. Some tourists get confused about what to do in London when it rains. Which is relatively often. If it rains when you’re walking about, duck into a museum or an art gallery until the weather changes. Many of them are free (although donations are appreciated) and they are all over town. Some are big famous places, like the V&A, Tate Modern and the National Gallery. But there are also these amazing smaller and more specific places. In our neighbourhood there is a museum dedicated entirely to hats and fans throughout history. There’s a place all about Benjamin Franklin. One about sewing machines. If you want to learn random trivia like no other, come to London in the off season and tour every museum you can find.

Acceptance. Right now it may not seem like it, but in all the places I’ve been in the world, London has this casual sense of accepting everyone as they are. Just do your thing. No worries. We don’t really talk to strangers here and we generally don’t make eye contact when we walk down the street. Maybe London seems a little aloof, but really, London gives everyone personal space to do their own thing. You’ve never heard so many people say ‘sorry’ until you’ve found yourself on an over-packed tube train. I know this point seems completely out of place this week but it has always been my gut-feeling of what I love about this city, so I’m just going to stick with it.

trafalgar square, london
Sudden community spirit. This is what makes me smile even at the most stressful of times. Ninety-nine percent of the time, we don’t talk to people we don’t know. But in that one percent when something is out of the ordinary? Suddenly we have some sort of community bond and everyone starts talking. It happens after horrible events, like the 7/7 attacks, but it also happens after things like snowstorms. I live on an entirely residential street that isn’t a high-priority for clearing, and every time it snows, I meet neighbours I’ve never seen. No one really owns a snow shovel here and very few have snow boots, so we bond over sliding down the road in our wellies with a half-dozen pairs of socks warming our feet. What else can you do? Last night our local pub was filled and inviting rather than the usual ‘actually, there aren’t many tables left’. Yesterday more people showed up to clean the streets in the morning than they could actually put to work. That’s pretty much fabulous, even though by saying it I have just proven to not be a real Londoner. Really should stay more quiet about my London love if I want to blend in… but trust me, it’s there.

love london
Just wanted to add that although not completely settled, things are notably better here at the moment. Monday night was rough on our side of town, but Tuesday night was quiet and there is normal traffic on the road this morning while yesterday there were few cars. It’s a step in the right direction, anyway.

Now… what ten things are you going to share today? It can be absolutely anything as long as it’s ten!! When you’ve posted, leave a link below and have a very fabulous tenth of August!


10 August 2011

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77 Comments for 10 Things :: August 2011

  1. sheena Says:

    I’m loving taking part in 10 things & blog hopping around the globe x
    it really appeals to my nosey nature :D

  2. BeeH Says:

    London always was and still remains very much my favourite city and I doubt that’ll change anytime soon. I miss it now, after reading that – I used to go to London much more often when I was a student living in Germany, now that I live in Northern Ireland I never seem to manage.

  3. Katie Says:

    It’s so sad to see what’s happening to such a great city. I really hope all this nonsense ends soon and people feel safe again.

  4. carole A Says:

    I am a londoner born and bred and I love it deeply. I havent lived there for 30 years (live in the sticks), but my love for it will never diminish. The last few nights have been truly awful and my heart goes out to those who have lost their homes and livlihoods. But lets pray its a blip and that we may soon return to the London we know and love. Your post was delightful and heart-warming.

  5. Kerry Says:

    I have only ever been down to London once with school when I was around 15 and thoroughly enjoyed the whistlestop tour we had. Definitely want to come back down again (albeit 20 something years later) despite the feral youths.

  6. Irene Fitzpatrick Says:

    It’s good to get a Londoner’s point of view, Shimelle! Love your 10 things :) We must come and ‘do’ London sometime…haven’t been for years! The last time I came , I was a teenager in a large procession going to meet in Trafalgar Square for a Methodist Youth Club rally. No trouble there…only a lot of noise and singing!! I remember someone sticking some MAYC stickers over bare nipples shown on a poster outside a theatre!! :)

  7. Connie Mercer Says:

    thanks for posting this as your 10 things!

  8. Scrapdolly Says:

    Actually managed to make it in time this month. Lovingt he concept and am doing a whole 10 album
    Books this month

  9. wannabe rebel Says:

    Really enjoying this feature !

  10. Francine Says:

    Thanks for sharing these 10 things Shimelle. very important in these trying times!

    I’m happy to be back taking part! I missed last month as we were away :)

  11. Jennie Says:

    Great post Shimelle, I haven’t been to London for about 5 years and we had planned to come this summer as my youngest son is now six and I want to show him now he’s old enough. Sadly finances have held us back, but we will get there soon.

    I too hope everything settles down there.

  12. Christina Carnoy Says:

    I love England so much too!!!

  13. Jane Says:

    history and parks, what could be better.

  14. Jacky S Says:

    Love this post…I too love London…and very much miss living there.

  15. WHua Says:

    This so makes me want to hop on a plane and head to London pronto! One of these days, I will get there! Thanks for sharing what London means to you, especially in light of what’s happening.

  16. Deb Says:

    Thanks for sharing Shimelle. I’ve never been to London so great to read about it through your eyes. I have linked my 10 things for the first time. What a fabulous idea.

  17. ines Says:

    Thanks so much for this post. It is great and true. Even I always have been a visitor to the city, I love it too. It’s been a long time ago since we have been there, but I hope to come in the nearer future again and visit some friends over there.
    Hope everything is getting better now.
    Wishing you a fab day and a nice conservation with some stranger… (o:

  18. Kirsty A Says:

    Great post, and timely. I’ve been following the riots from a distance, feeling grateful that Im currently in France and ashamed of the behaviour of some of out British youths. No excuse at all. Just criminal and out of control. Glad you are safe.

  19. Julie Jeavons Says:

    London’s on my list of places to take my daughter. I’ll be sure to post a list of ten when we go.

  20. Valerie Says:

    Thank you for sharing your city with us. I am hopefully that the violence will end very soon.

  21. Tracy Says:

    Hi Shimelle love your post!
    I live in Scotland and have been watching the news hope it all quietens down soon.
    Have linked to you as well,i enjoyed blogging about Edinburgh.
    Big hugs
    Stay safe

  22. shunrai Says:

    Shimelle I love this post !! I miss London…

  23. Becky Says:

    Great post Shimelle!

  24. Denise Says:

    I can probably use these lists later to scrap. :)

  25. Kim Says:

    I accidentally posted the wrong link (#31 goes to my first 10 things post in June, rather than today’s post). Is there any way to delete it?
    Kim (kkbyrns)

  26. stephanie Says:

    I loved this post. London has been on my list of places to go since I saw Mary Poppins as a little girl. : ) Thank you so much for sharing your city with us.

  27. Alison Says:

    Glad that you chose to remind people of the GOOD things about London, Shimelle!
    alison xx

  28. Kai Says:

    When I come to London, I want YOU as my tour guide. :) If only to give me a plan, I won’t make you walk around with me. :)

  29. Bernice Says:

    I love your choice of photos to portray the best of London

  30. Kristina Says:

    Wonderful post about the city I love so much too. I am visiting it in October and can’t wait to be there. I have to say though that I am a countryside person at heart and a visit every few years is quite enough.

  31. Kim Says:

    I now want to visit London! I’m glad things are calming down there.

  32. NikkiFB Says:

    Just chiming in to say thanks for the post and glad you’re okay. We love and miss London every day, and it’s been 6 years since we moved back to the States. That “acceptance” and “community spirit” was so much of what we loved about England and Brits; we saw many examples of it, especially in times of crisis. You’ve made me “home”-sick. :)

  33. Carolyn Says:

    A great post, and very timely.

  34. Fiona Says:

    Great post, have just put up mine.

  35. ifa Says:

    I lived in London for nearly 20 years, I still love to visit.

  36. Barb C Says:

    Glad things are starting to settle down. Stay safe!

  37. Sherry C Says:

    Thanks for the insiders guide to London, lovely post! Now I’m craving Mexican food, thanks!

  38. betsy Says:

    great post shimelle – wish i could visit one day. glad things are getting better right now.

  39. Photograhing Mom Says:

    Would so love to visit!!!

  40. Cheryl M Says:

    This is an exciting 10 things for me this month and could be for others as well. Thanks Shimelle for hosting this for all of us! I’m hoping to join you for this weekend’s crop as well!

  41. Rachel H Says:

    Nice to see London from a Londoner’s point of view. I’ve visited several times and do love it…not a rain person tho, I’ll take the hot & cold! :)

  42. Ladkyis Says:

    loved seeing London from a resident-newcomer point of view.

  43. Lisa M. Zepponi Says:

    Wonderful 10 things list!! You should be a tour guide in your spare time! Yea, I know what’s that! Makes me want to come visit!

  44. Wanda Says:

    I’ve never been to London but your post makes me want to go!

  45. Mel Says:

    You are so sweet and positive, Shimelle! Yes, London is a great city. Thanks for sharing some of your favourites :)

  46. heather Says:

    my first time with this 10 on the 10th! Love your London Shimelle & its brought me some good memories from when I worked as a ‘Nanny’ many years ago :)

  47. Stephanie Says:

    Love your 10 things!! I live in a town with one of your things from country: The London Bridge!! :)

  48. Ruby Says:

    Would love to travel to London someday, it is on my bucketlist.

  49. Amy Lynne Says:

    I loved your post about London. It made me wonder how long I would have to save, to be able to bring my whole family to see these sights!! What a fun idea, the 10 things….it is wonderful to see what everyone is thinking of. :)

  50. monica Says:

    I haven´t been in London for 25 year! Maybe it´s time to go back?!!

  51. Beverly Says:

    I always look forward to the tenth of the month, so many wonderful lists of ten things, so many bloggers to discover and friends to visit. I spread visits out over the month :) Shimelle, I loved your London list and am happy to hear that things are settling down.

  52. Jennifer grace Says:

    I’m glad you chose this topic for 10 things this month, it’s nice to read happy things about London. I’m going to try and find that Mexican place next time i’m in town!

  53. Jimjams Says:

    Lovely post about London’s charms – takes me back 30 years :D

  54. Judi Davis Says:

    Shimelle. Just – thank you. With so many people condemning our country at the moment this was a delight to read. And given me a list of where I can get my daughter to take me next time I’m down visiting her. :-D Jude.x

  55. Debs Says:

    How lovely to see a list of good things about London, especially with all the bad news about the capital at the moment.

  56. Eleanor Says:

    I feel a very long way from London up here in the Highlands, enjoyed your fascinating commentary and observations.
    My 10 things are in my kitchen!

  57. Melissa Says:

    So enjoyed your post today Shimelle! I’ve been heartbroken to hear the reports of all the goings on over there. I have been fortunate to visit London (from the States) three times and I really enjoyed being able to walk everywhere. We had wonderful food and quite the variety, so I can’t imagine people saying it’s bland. We enjoyed the theatre each time and stayed near The Wallace Collection museum which I thoroughly enjoyed along with the National Gallery.

  58. Crystal Says:

    I’ve never been to London, but now I feel like I’ve had a mini “insider’s” tour.

  59. Cheri Says:

    feels a bit like deja vu after my oldest daughter just spent a semester in London!

  60. nikki Says:

    love your pics shimelle.

  61. rach Says:

    Great post, thanks for looking at the positives.

  62. sarah slade Says:

    I love london & ive only visited a few times

  63. anneberit Says:

    Glad to read all the good things about London! I look forward to next time we’re going to the city already. :)

  64. Susan White Says:

    Love this idea! It’s so much fun reading others’ lists.

  65. Abbey Says:

    I made a list of local businesses and places I like to support. Not quite the same theme, but trying to focus on great people and places in my community. Thanks for the inspiration.

  66. Sara G. Says:

    I also wrote about my city today :) Thank you for the great blogging and scrapbooking inspiration!

  67. America Says:

    Love your post. This is my first time participating in 10 Things…truly enjoyed it!! Thanks!

  68. Miriam Rogers Says:

    Thanks for being so positive Shimelle.

  69. Zahra Says:

    Great post Shimelle x

  70. kL Says:

    just wanted to say how much i loved this post today shimelle.

  71. Madeline Says:

    Love that things are quieting down there Shimelle. Been so busy here I totally forgot about this yesterday. Oh well there is always next month

  72. Amy Ulen Says:

    I, too, absolutely love London and wish I lived there. Every time I go, I warn my husband to not be surprised if I don’t come back. :-) Thanks for sharing some of the things you love about that wonderful city.

  73. shirley Says:

    I enjoyed your post—Thank you for sharing..Have never been to England or anywhere in Europe…Seems like we spend more time and money visiting and touring tropical island Countries as Oregon has way to much rain and grey cloudy days..—Someday I would to visit London in the sunny month of August and childhood home. However it might be a bit more colorful in the spring…Oh well either way—-someday soon—

  74. Anne Says:

    I spent some time in London as a teenager (mostly in the West End) and felt so comfortable there that I could have stayed forever. Reading this post has brought those feelings all back. I must try harder to go back and visit. Thank you for writing such a heartfelt post.

  75. Betsy Says:

    It never ceases to amaze me the great ideas people come up with for the themes of their lists!

  76. lynn Says:

    Lovely to read what you have to say about London. Enjoyed your photos too. I have chosen to blog 10 Things I found in the loft this week.

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