Londoners, Brits, Anglophiles; how many times have you heard someone quote Samuel Johnson and say something to the effect of “if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life?” It’s the unclaimed motto of the city and honestly? I think it’s a little cringeworthy. And self-congratulatory, as it’s almost exclusively regurgitated by Londoners – old and new – themselves.
But here I am, falling into that very category*. Although a die-hard south-Londoner, I’ve been known to pass over the Thames when the mood or menu strikes. This weekend, for instance, I hauled my hungover ass to South Kensington for a little gluten-free afternoon tea at the Kensington Hotel with Holly. As a Peckhamite and Balhamite (P’ckahhhm; B’lahhhm) respectively, the novelty of the obsessively scrubbed streets, pale brickwork and high-reaching facades wasn’t lost on us and although I was only 30 minutes up the road from my flat, I felt like I could have been in an entirely different city.
*and certainly taking note of the typical British self-deprecation that I felt the need to start this post off with a jarring comment on a group of which I’m a part.
When I first moved to London, all 21-years-old and startled at the sirens, I thought three years would be ‘enough’. I thought that at 24, I could begin to make the slow retreat back to whence I came (Cornwall); perhaps with a year or two in Brighton and a little longer in beloved Bristol. But here I am, five years into my capital living and it’s still “oh, just another three years”. Every time a new exhibition launches, a familiar chef opens a new eatery or I hear of something suburbia would copy but never quite get right*, my London bucket list grows an inch. Whether cringeworthy, self-congratulatory or both, I’m starting to think there’s something in that old adage that if one is tired of London, they’re tired of life.
*Jesus, could I sound anything more like Mark’s business partner in Bridget Jones? “Honestly, does anything work outside of London? Hmm?” UGH
As you can see above, I recently became privy to an infographic that reminded me just how much I have yet to do. So, with that in mind, here’s my London bucket list. You won’t find any “ride the London Eye” suggestions here; having lived here for the better half of a decade (GOOD LORD), I’ve knocked a couple of the biggies on the head. What should I add? Pray, what should I take away? Leave a comment at the beep.
This is kind of cheating, because I know it’ll take me forever to gather the balls necessary to get myself locked into a little basket in the sky; meaning I’ll have to stay put in this fine city until I do so. But whatever. Into The Blue, which trades only in the most exhilarating of experiences, has a tempting one… Up, up and away, friends.
Undoubtedly, this has to be at the revered Sake No Hana, which is why it’s on my London bucket list (as opposed to the general one). It’s no secret that this is my favourite Japanese restaurant outside Japan. It’s positively coming down with accolades and Michelin stars so I’m sure they could teach me a thing or two about hot sake.
Oh come on, everyone’s allowed a little hipsterness from time to time. Sofar Sounds holds intimate gigs in secret locations. The band and location are only announced after you’ve booked the ticket, I hear. If their Instagram is anything to go by, I’ll bloody love it.
If only for the novelty of feeling like I’ll be at Eden Project Lite. You can take the girl out of Cornwall…
…but you certainly can’t take Cornwall out of the girl, as evidenced. I shit you not, cows are my favourite animals (to look at, at least) and I can’t believe I haven’t been to one of the city farms yet.
This has been on my to do list for quite a while now. Sayeth Japanese supper club-sters, Monograph;
“Reach our secret location, sit at the same table with some perfect strangers and be ready for new flavours, emotions and conversations in an informal and relaxed environment.”
This one has been on my London bucket list since the day I discovered it existed. On the first Wednesday of every month, Cornish folk in the city congregate to eat pasties, drink cider and grumble Kernowek-style. It’s a true crime that I haven’t been, but perhaps February will be my month… Doing it ‘dreckly.
In a move that reflects my middle-aged-ness, middle-class-ness, or both, I’ve taken to brightening up my increasingly White Company-esque home with the most vibrant of bouquets. I’ve become a bit obsessed. I even bought orange roses and lined them up in a trio of miniature Grey Goose bottles along my windowsill (what can I say? The thug life chose me). For a more purse-friendly price, I need to start making regular end-of-day trips to Columbia Road to pick up what the rest of London casts aside.
One of the things I miss most since coming home from my trip around Asia is the food. In particular, Korean food. I just WhatsApped one of my Korean friends to find out the name of this squid pancake that her family traditionally eats when its raining (it was my last supper before I came back to London and it was the culinary highlight of the trip. Poetic, that). School of Wok has so many amazing-sounding courses, I’m hoping they’ll be able to teach me how to whip up some squid in my own kitchen.
Opened by the Lumiere brothers, this was the first venue to show moving picture in 1896. Regent Street Cinema recently reopened as a cinema (after many years as a university lecture hall) and as well as some carefully selected films of the hour, they push out old classics; from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Studio Ghibli.
To hell with this shoddy weather; I want to get outside! So London may not be the best for traditional hiking but I’ll be damned if I don’t try. O2, I’ll conquer you.
This year’s the year; I’ll finally do what my mother has been imploring me to do all these years.
What are your London bucket list must-dos?