Saturday, 11 July 2009

A break from London in London

It is finally here. The week off. The week of freedom.

This is a very good thing, because I was beginning to approach the London Commuter Boiling Point of Doom. If I don’t count Christmas (which I don’t, because I had flu throughout the entire Christmas holiday- yippee) I haven’t actually had a full week off work since last September, which is roughly, oh, a frigging long time. What I find when I don’t have a break for a while is that my temper gets shorter and shorter, and I develop a tendency to do foolish things, like call people twats if they push in front of me in Sainsburys or quietly seethe because some weirdo insists on sitting next to me on the bus even though there are plenty of empty double seats available.
It’s when I’m walking down a London street scowling and muttering to myself that I realise I really need a break from the 9 to 5. As soon as possible.
This coming week I will be spending quite a bit of time at home because our little cat Pyra still has a bit of a sore tummy, and I still need to keep an eye on her in case she does any crazy things like swinging from the lampshades. She has some ninja in her heritage somewhere.
The rest of the time I will be making short trips up town (as my brother always points out, I am already in town, but you know what I mean). My plan is to go to different places in London that I haven’t been to before, have a scout around and an explore, and then find a cafĂ© or a pub and do an on location writing session.
A Boy of Blood and Clay isn’t just set in London, it’s about London; it’s history, mythology, and stories. This coming week I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting to know the city that I love a wee bit better, and hopefully getting a fuckload of writing done at the same time.
So if anyone has any tips or favourite places to visit in London, a particularly atmospheric street, a busy park or an interesting building, I’d really love to hear about them!


  1. It's actually not very interesting (not like your story anyway), but the actual London Stone is on Cannon Street if you want to go see it. A bit further up from there, there is a lovely little street that looks like a little village in the middle of London. I don't know what it's called, but it's across a main road opposite Garlick Hill (sweet name)!

    The whole of the City area around there towards St. Paul's is great for small back streets for a slice of the era you write about...

  2. Excellent! I was planning on heading up towards St Paul's and Ludgate Hill anyway, and you're right, I definitely should visit the real London Stone.

    Hmm, I should really drag out that A to Z...

  3. Possibly an obvious suggestion, and possibly a very tedious one, but I would recommend The British Museum.

    Now, it's not obscure, it's busy, it's popular, you've been there a thousand times anyway.

    But even if the halls are packed with tourists, just remember that some of the stuff in there is amazing, in the true sense of the word.

    I think it would be very easy to take it for granted, write it off as a tourist trap, but think back to the reasons why it was founded and the people who started the collections. Find an out-of-the-way room, an obscure and not to popular display case, and focus on the detail of the artifacts.

    With the right mindset it would be a terrific couple of hours. Finding the unknown and the obscure and the interesting right in the middle of the London rush is exactly why the city is such an interesting place.

  4. Thanks Adam, it's a good suggestion and one I probably wouldn't have considered, mainly because, as you suggest, I've been there a billion times (I work around the corner) and it is normally a heaving tourist nightmare. However, I do have fond memories of visiting the painting and print galleries upstairs, which were quiet, interesting and happened to have a small Goya exhibit on at the time- it is genuinely a place of wonders.

    It's a shame you have to spend half the visit elbowed out the way by obnoxious tourists snapping flash photos of the remains of people dead for hundreds of years. Tsk.

    Still, as you say, well worth the agro. :)

  5. If you are going to go up to the City, go on a Saturday as it is spookily empty and quiet as none of the offices or banks are open. Plus it is easier to wander around and really soak up the atmosphere of the oldest part of original London town. Check out the Monument (you can usually go to the top), head to Lincoln's Inn Field, snoop around London Wall and look into the actual Temple at Temple! It is all very cool and much nicer when all the twonks are elsewhere!!

  6. Ah, the City without the Suits- eerie! All great suggestions, and given my subject matter, I think it's important I see as many of the oldest bits of London as possible. :D I'm really looking forward to it all now.

  7. Give Shad Thames a go - at Butlers Wharf and pretty much directly below Tower Bridge (well, not right under - that would be the river, but the other side to City Hall). It was used to film a Davison dalek story before it was completely re-developed. Its got pubs and a Pizza Express - what more could you want?! uts one of the best kept secrets in this ol' town of ours.

  8. Well, I can hardly resist the ghosts of Daleks, can I? ;D And I am hoping to discover some good London pubs while I'm on my travels.

    You know, I don't think I've ever actually been right up close to Tower Bridge. I shall have to change that.

  9. Do the boat trip up the Thames. It's very cool it's brilliant to see the London architecture via the water.

  10. Well, seeing as I don't live in London, I don't really have any recommendations. However, I love the idea of what you're doing and want to do the same in my city. I envy your week off; I haven't had a week off 2005. Oh my gods, no wonder I'm so crabby! :) In any case, you have inspired me and I'm going to at least try to visit a few places of local color, even if all I have is a day here and there. Marvelous concept!